mandag 22. mars 2021

Diplomats denied access as Canadian Michael Kovrig goes on trial in China

Diplomats from more than two dozen countries were denied access to a Chinese court Monday as detained Canadian Michael Kovrig went on trial in Beijing on espionage charges. Kovrig is one of two Canadians detained since 2018, following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is currently fighting extradition to the United States, where she is wanted for allegedly breaching sanctions against Iran. On Friday, Canadian Michael Spavor went on trial in Dandong, in northeastern China. His trial was held behind closed doors and only lasted two hours.

Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG), is accused by the Chinese authorities of "stealing sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017," while Spavor, a businessman with a focus on North Korea, is accused of providing intelligence to Kovrig. Spavor's trial took place as US and Chinese officials were trading barbs at the opening of a diplomatic summit in Alaska, the first time the countries' top diplomats have met since US President Joe Biden took office.

Both Washington and Ottawa have repeatedly called for Kovrig and Spavor's release, denouncing their detention as political and arbitrary.