China Sentences Canadian Michael Spavor To 11 Years In Prison For Espionage
China has sentenced Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison, convicted of espionage.
Spavor and ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig, also known as the ‘two Michaels’, were taken into custody by Chinese authorities in December 2018, allegedly on suspicion of national security violations.
Canada previously accused the country of conducting ‘hostage diplomacy’, and US president Joe Biden slammed China for treating human beings like ‘bartering chips’, vowing to stand with his northern neighbours ‘against abuse of universal rights and democratic freedom’.
‘For the crime of spying and illegal provision of state secrets abroad [Spavor] has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, confiscation of 50,000 yuan ($7,715: £5,578) worth of personal property and deportation,’ the Dandong court said in a statement, as per BBC News. Kovrig faces the same charges, having been tried separately, but he’s yet to be convicted.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said the ruling is ‘absolutely unacceptable and unjust… the verdict for Mr Spavor comes after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law.’
‘We condemn in the strongest possible terms this [decision] which was rendered without due process or transparency,’ Canadian ambassador Dominic Barton also said.
The pair’s arrests came shortly after Meng Wanzhou, an executive at the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, who was detained in Canada on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in order to circumvent US sanctions against Iran.
She’s currently being held on house arrest amid efforts to extradite her to the US so she can stand trial. Meng’s lawyers have argued it’d be a political prosecution, coming after Donald Trump’s highly-publicised offers to get involved with the case and release her if the country got a better trade deal with China.
Whether or not she returns to China could be key in Spavor coming back to Canada. While deportation generally takes place after a person has served their sentence in China, exceptions are made in special cases.
‘[Spavor’s case] may be a signal that the Chinese are willing to deport him at whatever time the Canadian government creates the right conditions for him to leave – in other words Meng being released to return to China,’ Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s graduate school of public and international affairs, told The Guardian.
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