Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China, are shown in these 2018 images taken from video. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP)

Trudeau dismisses China report anonymously accusing Kovrig, Spavor of espionage

Canadians arrested in December by Chinese authorities accused of violating national security

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dismissing reports in China that two imprisoned Canadians tried to steal state secrets from the People’s Republic.

Trudeau says it is unfortunate China continues to push forward with detentions of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

READ MORE: China accuses detained Canadians of stealing state secrets

They were arrested in December by Chinese authorities and accused of violating the country’s national security more than a week after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies, at the request of the U.S., which wants to extradite her for fraud.

“We are a country of the rule of law. We will ensure that that rule of law is fully respected and we will go through those processes in a proper and rigorous way,” Trudeau told reporters in Prince Edward Island.

“It is unfortunate that China continues to move forward on these arbitrary detentions.”

An anonymously sourced report in China’s state-controlled Xinhua News Agency reported Monday that Kovrig and Spavor worked together to steal state secrets, linking their cases for the first time.

Kovrig and Spavor have been imprisoned without being formally charged or granted access to lawyers, and their Canadian consular visits have been limited to approximately one a month — while Meng has been released on bail and is living in a Vancouver mansion.

Meng’s lawyers said Sunday she would file a civil lawsuit against the Canadian government over her Dec. 1 arrest.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was asked Monday at a briefing in Beijing whether that amounted to a double standard, but he brushed aside the suggestion.

“China has strictly fulfilled our due obligations as required in the China-Canada Consular Agreement,” Lu said, according to a translated version of his remarks posted to his department’s website.

He said China “took compulsory measures” against Kovrig and Spavor, because they were suspected of undermining China’s national security.

“I believe you are well aware that it is common practice for all countries in the world to deal with cases concerning national security in this way,” said Lu.

“China has made necessary consular notifications to the Canadian side and fulfilled our due obligations as required in the China-Canada Consular Agreement.”

As for Meng’s treatment by Canada, Lu said it amounted to “a grave violation of her legitimate rights and interests and also constitutes a serious political incident.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Hagensborg Water District purchases new fire truck; prepares for conversion to CCRD

Approximately $1.3 million of the district’s infrastructure grant has been transferred to the CCRD.

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Most Read