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Two Canadians caught in China have been accused of gooing

Second Canadian possibly detained in China (2018)
Barbara C. Arroyo

The People’s Procurator of the Beijing Municipality filed a lawsuit Friday against Kovrig for “googling on state secrets and intelligence.” The People’s Procurator of Dandong has also filed a public prosecution of Spawer for “gooing and illegally providing state secrets”.

The two were taken into custody in Vancouver in late 2018 by Chinese technology company Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on charges filed in the United States.

US prosecutors want Meng to stand trial on various allegations of bank fraud and violation of US sanctions against Iran.

Beyond mainland China, new allegations are fueling fears in Hong Kong over the impending national security law, bypassing the local legislature and imposing the city of Beijing.

This week, G7 countries a Joint statement The proposed law “could undermine and threaten the fundamental rights and freedoms of all the population (in Hong Kong) protected by the rule of law and the existence of an independent legal system.”

‘Unilateral’ detention

Kovrig is a former diplomat in Beijing and worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG). Spawer founded Piktu Cultural Exchange, an organization that helps facilitate North Korean travels. He helped former NBA player Dennis Rodman on a trip to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Canadian government has repeatedly described their detention as “arbitrary”. Family members and contacts of the two men were described as being in poor circumstances and denied external contact.

Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016, told CNN last year that Spawer was housed in a detention center in Dandong, in the northeastern province, and shared a cell with 18 other inmates. Kovrig was housed in Beijing, Saint-Jacques said, and no person has had access to a lawyer or their family since they were first detained.

“In both cases they receive consular visits, once every month, for exactly 30 minutes, where someone is watching all the talk,” he said. “These are mainly used to give news to their families and to give them books and other reading materials. It is very difficult for them. They are waiting and do not know when and how they will be released.”

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A person familiar with the situation told CNN that Canadian diplomacy efforts have so far focused on trying to solve a complex political impasse.

There is a big geopolitical game going on between China and the US, in which Canada is somewhat stuck in the middle, the man added and the two Canadians who pay its price.

Saint-Jacques admits that China’s problem is with America, “but they do not dare to arrest former (American) diplomats or diplomats on leave.”

He said China was surprised by the international condemnation of the arrest of two Canadians, but that Ottawa had little to do with the support of allies. “It’s hard to find something, because we don’t have much of what the Chinese really want,” he said.

In a statement on the anniversary of his arrest last year, the Spaver family said that he was “caught up in an altercation between two superpowers, unwittingly and unwillingly, by human geopolitical forces and forces beyond his control.”

CNN’s Shanshan Wang and Steve George contributed to the reporting.

About the author

Barbara C. Arroyo

Barbara C. Arroyo

I'm a writer, editor and newsroom leader working at the intersection of tech and media, editorial and product, journalism and management. I am driven to transform our industry for the future, develop and mentor our people, build compassionate and innovative organizational cultures, and put readers and communities at the center of it all. I also have a love of storytelling and creative work, and refuse to pick one or the other.

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