The Beijing City People’s Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted Covig on Friday for “spying on state secrets and information.” The Dodong People’s Prosecutor’s Office also filed a public lawsuit against Spavour for “espionage and illegal provision of state secrets.”
Both men were arrested in the weeks following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, director of the Chinese technology company Huawei in late 2018, on charges filed in the United States.
U.S. prosecutors want Mann to stand trial on multiple charges, including bank fraud and violation of US sanctions against Iran.
In addition to mainland China, the new charges will spark fears in Hong Kong about the upcoming national security law, which will be imposed by Beijing on the city, bypassing the local legislature.
Kovrig was a former diplomat in Beijing and worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG). Spavour is the founder of Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that helps facilitate travel to North Korea. He helped former NBA player Dennis Rodman on his 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 between the two men have described themselves as being held in poor conditions and refusing external contact.
“In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine.” “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.”
A person familiar with the situation told CNN that Canada’s diplomatic efforts have so far focused on trying to resolve what remains a complex 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.
Saint-Jacques agreed, saying China’s problem was with the United States, “but of course they do not dare to arrest former (American) diplomats or licensed diplomats.”
He said China was surprised by the widespread international condemnation of its arrest by the two Canadians, but that in addition to gathering support from the Allies, there was little that Ottawa could do. “It’s very difficult to find something because we don’t really have what the Chinese really want,” he said.
In a statement on the anniversary of his detention last year, Spover’s family said he had been “trapped as an reluctant and reluctant human pawn in a confrontation between two superpowers and went through geopolitical currents and forces beyond his control.”
CNN’s Shanshan Wang and Steve George contributed to the report.