Beijing, Sep 2 (EFE).- The cases of two Canadians imprisoned in China for espionage are linked by photographs of military equipment taken by one and shared with the other, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper on Thursday.
Citing a “a source close to the matter,” the nationalist outlet reported that Michael Spavor “was found to have taken photos and videos of Chinese military equipment on multiple occasions and illegally provided some of those photos to people outside China.”
It added that Spavor was a “key informant” of compatriot Michael Kovrig, “and provided him with information over a long period.”
It is the first time details of allegations against Spavor, and of a link between the two cases have been made public.
The “two Michaels,” as they are popularly known, were arrested for spying in December 2018, days after Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada over alleged violations of United States trade sanctions on Iran. The Canadians’ arrests are widely thought to have been in retaliation for the detention of Meng, who is facing extradition to the US.
Kovrig’s trial ended in March, with the verdict yet to be announced, while Spavor was in August sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered deported.
In its report, the Global Times added that “the source said between 2017 and 2018, Kovrig entered China under the guise of a businessman and false pretext of commerce.”
“In Beijing, Shanghai, Jilin and other places, through his associates, Kovrig gathered a large amount of undisclosed information related to China’s national security, on which he wrote analytical reports. The information Kovrig gathered included second-tier state secrets and intelligence.”
Kovrig is a former diplomat who at the time of his arrest was working for the Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor is a businessman specializing in North Korea.
Spavor’s Aug. 11 sentence was met with condemnation among the international community, since it occurred as Meng was attending extradition hearings in Canada, and came a day after a Chinese court upheld the death sentence for another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, for drug trafficking.
The two men have remained in strict isolation, with limited visits by Canadian consular personnel, and in cells that maintain lighting 24 hours a day, according to the Canadian press. EFE