A court in China sentenced the Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for alleged espionage. The entrepreneur was detained in 2018, a few days after the arrest in Canada of the vice president of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Meng Wanzhou. The ruling was condemned by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
A court in the city of Dandong in the northeast of the PRC also fined the Canadian 50,000 yuan (30,000 zlotys). He also announced that Spavor would be deported from China, but did not explain when. According to a Beijing lawyer, Mo Shaoping, quoted by the Reuters agency, deportation usually follows a prison sentence in China.
The sentence on Wednesday was issued when the attorneys of the vice president of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Meng Wanzhou are trying to convince a Canadian court not to agree to her extradition to the US. According to critics, Chinese communist authorities have taken Spavor hostage to put pressure on Ottawa over the Meng case.
Another Canadian, former diplomat Michael Kovrig, detained shortly after Meng’s arrest and charged with espionage, is also in Chinese custody. His trial ended in March, but the court has yet to deliver a sentence.
Trudeau denounced the sentence. “It’s totally unacceptable”
The Spaver ruling was condemned on Wednesday by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “The sentence for Michael Spavor is completely unacceptable, it is unfair. It came after more than 2.5 years of arbitrary detention in prison, in the absence of transparency, after a trial that did not meet even the minimum requirements of international law. another Canadian) Michael Kovrig, also arbitrarily detained (in China), our most important goal is to ensure their immediate release … We will not rest until we bring them home safely, “Trudeau wrote in a statement.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Marc Garneau tweeted after the verdict announced that the release of both Canadians was “an absolute priority”. “I spoke to Canada’s friends and partners and thanked them for their firm support in the case of Spaver and Kovrig, who have been arbitrarily held in China since December 2018,” Garneau added.
Canada’s Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, quoted by Canadian media, said Spavor told him “three things” when they met after the verdict: “the first is to thank everyone for their support, it means a lot to him, the second is that he is in a good mood and the third is that he wants to go home. “
Beijing denies that the actions against the Canadians are related to the Meng case
Since Meng’s arrest in China, four Canadian citizens accused of drug offenses have been sentenced to death. On Tuesday, a court rejected the appeal of one of them, Robert Schellenberg, who was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison, but after the arrest of vice president Huawei, the sentence was changed to the death penalty.
Beijing denies that the actions against Canadians in China are related to the Meng case, but has openly called for her release and has threatened Canada with consequences if it does not.
US officials accuse Meng of fraudulent efforts to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. The Chinese woman pleads not guilty. The court ruling on her extradition to the US is expected in the coming months, with the Canadian Justice Minister’s final decision.
Canada’s former ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, told public broadcaster CBC’s Power & Politics Tuesday that Canada should boycott next year’s Beijing winter Olympic Games.
Main photo source: KIM KYUNG-HOON / Reuters / FORUM