13 Canadians held in China since arrest of Huawei executive: official

Friday January 4 2019

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig

An undated picture of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, which was released on December 12, 2018 in Washington, by the International Crisis Group. PHOTO | JULIE DAVID DE LOSSY | CRISIGROUP | AFP 

By AFP
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Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China following the arrest on December 1 of a senior executive from Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei, Ottawa said Thursday, with eight subsequently released.

Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Guillaume Berube confirmed the detentions to AFP, adding the figures excluded Hong Kong.

The thirteen include former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor, arrested on December 10, for activities said to threaten national security, as well as Sarah McIver, who was subsequently freed and returned to Canada.

There are approximately 200 Canadians overall who have been detained in China for a variety of alleged infractions and continue to face ongoing legal proceedings, and the number has remained relatively stable in recent years.

By way of comparison, there are almost 900 Canadians in a similar situation in the US.

Some observers believe the detentions of Mr Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group, and Mr Spavor, who is frequently consulted on matters linked to North Korea, were retaliatory actions following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States.

Washington has accused her of fraud for helping evade US sanctions against Iran. She was later released on bail pending her extradition hearing.

Backed by the US and several European countries, Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated called for the immediate release of Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor, whose arrests Ottawa has termed arbitrary.

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