Crime & Justice

China sentences Canadian man to 11 years in prison for spying

Update 1: Adds European Union reactions, statement

Beijing, Aug 11 (EFE).- A court of Dandong in northeast China’s Liaoning province on Wednesday sentenced Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to foreign forces.

The court announced the verdict in a statement posted on its website and said that assets worth 50,000 yuan ($7,715) will also be confiscated from him.

Spavor was sentenced in March but the court decided that the verdict would be announced on a later, undetermined date.

In June 2020, China charged Spavor with “spying on state secrets and illegally providing them to overseas forces” and another Canadian, Michael Kovrig, with “spying on state secrets and intelligence.”

The European Union criticized Spavor’s sentence Wednesday, saying it was passed without respecting his right to a fair trial and legal process, including his right to a public hearing, as determined by human rights international law and Chinese criminal law.

“The European Union has repeatedly urged China to fulfill its international legal obligations to guarantee procedural justice and due process for Mr. Spavor. His right to a fair trial … has not been respected,” said a spokesman for the European External Action Service in a statement.

The spokesperson said Spavor’s detention in December 2018 was “arbitrary,” his initial imprisonment occurred under harsh conditions and he was only formally charged with “endangering national security” a year and a half after his arrest.

“The trial took place behind closed doors. He was not allowed to choose a lawyer and consular support while in custody was severely restricted,” the spokesman said.

The Beijing No. 2 People’s Intermediate Court had said in March that the verdict of Kovrig -a former diplomat who was in China working for the nonprofit International Crisis Group at the time of his arrest – would also be announced at a later date.

Spavor, a businessman specializing in North Korea, was arrested (“arbitrarily,” according to the Canadian embassy in Beijing) on ??Dec. 10, 2018 and has in custody ever since.

Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Burton, went to the Dandong Detention Center, where Spavor is being held, to hear the verdict.

Diplomats from Germany and the United States also traveled to the city to hear the verdict, while diplomats from 25 countries gathered at the Canadian embassy in China.

Both Spavor and Kovrig were arrested a few hours after after the arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Chinese tech giant Huawei’s founder and the company’s Chief Financial Officer, at the request of the US.

She was arrested during a layover in Canada on a trip to Mexico after Washington requested her extradition for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran.

Meng’s extradition trial is still underway at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada.

Meng, whose release Beijing has repeatedly demanded, is out on bail and lives in Vancouver with her family in one of the two mansions that she owns in the Canadian city.

Meanwhile, the two Michaels, as they are popularly known, have been held in isolation in cells with the lights on 24 hours a day for over two years and with restricted visits by Canadian consular officials, according to the US media reports.

This case has drastically worsened relations between Canada and China. EFE


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