Pompeo urges China to release two Canadian prisoners on "baseless" charges

Pompeo urges China to release two Canadian prisoners on “baseless” charges

In a statement On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was “very concerned” about the decision to file espionage charges against Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been detained in China since 2018.

“These allegations are politically motivated and completely unfounded,” Pompeo said. “The United States and Canada are urging Beijing to release the two men immediately and to refrain from using these unjustified detentions to force Canada to withdraw.”

U.S. prosecutors want Mann to stand trial on several charges, including bank fraud and breach of US sanctions against Iran.

Late last month, a Canadian judge ruled that the extradition case could proceed with what Chinese officials in the country called a “serious political incident.”

Within weeks, new charges were filed against Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat and NGO worker, and Spavor, who set up a North Korean travel company.

China’s legal system is offered to the ruling Communist Party and is known for its extremely high sentencing rate.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zao Lijian said the evidence against the two Canadians was “consistent” and “the facts are clear”.

Zao denied reports that the two men did not have access to consular assistance, saying the visits were halted due to the coronation pandemic.

Speaking to CNN last year, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016, said the men’s consular visits were very limited and that they did not have access to lawyers or visits from family.

“In both cases, they receive consular visits once a month for exactly 30 minutes, with someone there watching the whole discussion,” he said. “These are mainly used to give them news about their family, and to give them books and other reading material. It’s very difficult for them, they wait and have no idea when and how they will be released.”

In a statement, Pompeo said Washington echoed “Canada’s request for immediate consular access to its two citizens,” according to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as China has banned access for almost six months and The situation of the Canadians is unknown. “

In a Washington where China is the default, Pompeo has emerged as a fierce voice in Beijing, appreciating Chinese moves in the South China Sea and Hong Kong, as well as the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Following a meeting with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Hawaii last week – from which few details were published – Pompeo urged European leaders to “take out the golden eyes of the economic ties and see that China’s challenge is not just at the gates; it is in every capital, it is in every municipality, it is in every province.”

“Europe is facing a challenge in China, as are the United States, and so are our friends from South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” Pompeo said.

His tough line made him a hated figure in the Chinese media, where articles regularly against him. Last week, Zhao, a State Department spokesman, they accused him to have a “deep-rooted Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.”

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