Two Canadians detained in China have been formally charged with espionage

Trudeau attacks China’s “political” detention of two Canadians as Beijing-based prisons are released

Trudeau spoke a few days after Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor’s official accusation of spying and manipulating state secrets. The two men were first arrested in late 2018 in the weeks following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, director of the Chinese technology company Huawei, on charges filed in the United States.

“It was obvious from the beginning that this was a political decision taken by the Chinese government and we condemn it,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa, adding that “we are not considering” any trade between the two men and Huawei prisoner Meng Wangzu.

“Anyone who thinks of weakening our values ​​or weakening the independence of our justice system does not understand the importance of our values,” he added.

His comments came as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zao Lijian criticized both Canada and the United States for their comments on the case. In a regular press conference this week, Zao said that “Chinese judicial bodies handle cases independently and guarantee the legal rights of these Canadian citizens in accordance with the law.”

“We urge the Canadian leader to respect the rule of law and the rule of law in China and to refrain from making irresponsible remarks,” he added.

Chinese officials have not released any evidence against the two men or information describing their alleged crimes, but have said “the facts are clear and the evidence is solid.”

Possible exchange of prisoners?

Canada is stepping up pressure on the Trudeau government to do something about the “two Michaels”, as it is known there.

On Tuesday, the CBC interviewed several legal experts who agreed that Trudeau could intervene in the Meng case if he wished, although the prime minister has previously said that this would undermine judicial independence.

“The question is not whether the (Canadian government) can, the question is whether it should,” said Toronto-based lawyer Brian Greenspan. “The minister has the right to revoke the power to proceed and end the extradition process, and it is up to the discretion of the Minister of Justice.”

A person familiar with the situation told CNN last year that Canadian diplomatic efforts have so far focused on trying to resolve what remains a complicated political entanglement.

There is a bigger geopolitical game going on between China and the US, in which Canada is somewhat trapped in the middle, he added, and it is the two Canadians who are paying the price.

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada John Manley, who served under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien in the early 2000s, he said before that it would be a “prisoner exchange, as miserable as it seems.”

“These young men are in prison in very difficult circumstances for one reason only: the actions of the Canadian government and the Canadian government must do everything they can to free them,” he added. “What I’m most afraid of is … the United States concludes a trade agreement with China. And it withdraws the request for extradition. And Mrs. Meng is released immediately. Then we have no leverage and they will make us wait and maybe wait years for to see these two young men coming home.

Emotional letters

Speaking to the Globe and Mail in Canada on MondayBennett Kovrig, the father of one of the detainees, said that “the failure to act now is tantamount to a historic betrayal.”

“China has long stated that it is only interested in repatriating Meng and that it will immediately exchange for the release of the two Michaels,” said Bennett Kovrig. “Trudeau reiterates that he will not seek such an agreement. However, there is no alternative.”

Earlier this week, the newspaper published a series of letters Koving sent to his wife Vina Najibola.

“It writes about the meaning of life, the meaning of suffering,” Nadjibulla said in the document. “In one of his letters, he actually said, ‘I believe now that the meaning of life is to alleviate suffering.’ “”

While painful and thought-provoking, Kovrig’s letters, which are being censored and monitored by the Chinese authorities, provide few details about his circumstances. Consular visits have been suspended since January due to a corona pandemic.

“If there’s one faint silver lining in this hell, it’s this: the trauma has etched caves of psychological pain in my mind,” Covig wrote in a letter. “As I try to heal and recover, I find myself filling these bays with a love for you and a life that is vast, deep and profound and comforting than I have ever lived before.”

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