China formally arrests 2 Canadians in case linked to Huawei

China formally arrests 2 Canadians in case linked to Huawei

Chinese officials have accused Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor with stealing state secrets for a foreign organisation, a serious allegation which in its most extreme cases can result in the death penalty.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig is "suspected of collecting state secrets and intelligence" while businessman Michael Spavor is suspected of "stealing and illegally offering state secrets" overseas, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday.

In a statement, ICG said Kovrig's arrest was unjust and called for his immediate release.

After holding Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in an undisclosed locations since December, China's confirmation of the formal charges came just as the USA government all but banned American companies from doing business with Chinese tech giant Huawei, a move that could badly cripple a firm considered by China to be a national symbol of industrial prowess.

China has formally arrested two Canadian citizens it's been holding since December in an apparent effort to pressure Canada into releasing a Chinese telecom executive.

"Michael Kovrig was recently arrested for spying on state secrets and intelligence for foreign entities, and Michael Spavor was recently arrested for stealing and unlawfully providing state secrets to foreign entities", Lu said.

Speaking in March, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that both Canada and the United States had "abused their bilateral extradition treaty and took forced actions on a Chinese citizen".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday the arrest of Kovrig and Spavor had been approved by "Chinese prosecutorial authorities" and asked Canada to stop "making irresponsible remarks on China's rule of law".

They were held days after Canada detained top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request, which sparked assumptions that it was a retaliatory act by Beijing.

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No details of the men's detention or health conditions were provided due to Canadian privacy laws, but officials said that they would press for further access to the detainees.

China has taken the measures in accordance with the law, he said.

"But we will also make it very clear that we're not going to change our values or our systems, including the independence of our justice system, because China disagrees with our approach".

Meng Wanzhou, seen here as she leaves her home in Vancouver last week, was arrested in Canada at the request of the U.S.

Ms Meng, 47, is the daughter of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei. Her attorney has argued that comments by U.S. President Donald Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated.

The U.S. has pressured other countries to limit their use of Huawei's technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

She was ordered to wear an electronic anklet and hand over her passports after being released on bail in mid-December previous year.

Two other Canadians convicted of drug trafficking, meanwhile, have been sentenced to death.

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