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Old 19-03-21, 15:19   #1
 
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Canada Flag Chinas' SECRET Trial of Canadian "SPY"

Michael Spavor: Canada Criticises China After Trial Held in Secret

Canadian diplomat among officials from nine countries denied access to court for espionage trial of Spavor, which ended without a verdict

The Guardian, 19 MAR 2021.




Canadian Michael Spavor was arrested more than two years ago by China on espionage charges. He was tried on Friday. Photograph: AP


Canada has criticised China after it tried Michael Spavor – one of two Canadians detained more than two years ago on suspicion of espionage – swiftly in secret, denying diplomats from nine countries access to the court.

Spavor appeared in court for the one-day trial, but a verdict has not been issued, said Jim Nickel, the charge d’affaires of the Canadian embassy in Beijing. The trial itself lasted about three hours. The court said a verdict would be issued at a later date.

Nickel told reporters outside the court in eastern city of Dandong they were “disappointed by the lack of transparency and the lack of access”.

A group of 10 diplomats from eight other countries including Britain, the US, France and Australia had travelled to the city on the North Korean border, in what Nickel described as a gesture of solidarity for Spavor and to “register their opposition to arbitrary detention”. “We appreciate the international support,” Nickel said.

Ahead of the trial, Spavor’s family called for the unconditional release of both Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who is due to go on trial on Monday in Beijing.





Jim Nickel, Charge d’affaires of the Canadian embassy in China, is joined by other foreign diplomats outside the Dandong intermediate people’s court where Michael Spavor was tried on Friday. Photograph: Carlos García Rawlins/Reuters


“Michael [Spavor] is just an ordinary Canadian businessman who has done extraordinary things to build constructive ties between Canada, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the family statement said.

“He loved living and working in China and would never have done anything to offend the interests of China or the Chinese people.”

China arrested Spavor and Kovrig in December 2018, soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecoms equipment giant Huawei, on a US warrant.

Beijing insists the detentions are not linked to the arrest of Meng, who remains under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States, but Canada has accused China of conducting “hostage diplomacy”.

There was a small police presence on Friday morning outside the Dandong intermediate people’s court, which sits along the Yalu river opposite North Korea, the isolated country that Spavor regularly visited in his business career.

The trial dates were announced by Canada just as the US and China were preparing to hold high-level talks in Alaska – the first since US president Joe Biden took office – which have proven to be contentious.

China denied on Thursday that the trials were linked to those talks.

Observers have said that convictions of the two men could ultimately facilitate a diplomatic agreement whereby the two men are released and sent back to Canada.




Policemen secure a side entrance at the Dandong intermediate people’s court, where Canadian businessman Michael Spavor was put on trial on spying charges. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images


Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, said the timing of the trials was clearly designed to coincide with the talks between the US and China, which wants to pressure the Biden administration to arrange for Meng’s release.

“It’s fair to say that at this stage the solution has to come from Washington ... [Canada] is stuck in this geopolitical game that is going on between the United States and China,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday.

“We are in a very tough position because in fact unfortunately at this stage there is nothing that the Canadian government can do.”


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