Cana­dian of­fi­cials meet with de­tainee Spa­vor in China for sec­ond time

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - NATIONAL NEWS - JIM BRON­SKILL

OT­TAWA — Cana­dian diplo­mats vis­ited de­tained en­tre­pre­neur Michael Spa­vor on Tues­day, their sec­ond meet­ing since he was ar­rested in China last month for al­legedly en­dan­ger­ing na­tional se­cu­rity.

They are pro­vid­ing ser­vices to Spa­vor and his fam­ily and will seek fur­ther ac­cess to him, Global Af­fairs Canada said in a state­ment.

The depart­ment is also try­ing to ar­range an­other meet­ing with Michael Kovrig, him­self a diplo­mat on leave from Global Af­fairs, who was sim­i­larly ar­rested by the Chi­nese on na­tional-se­cu­rity grounds in De­cem­ber and has met just once with Cana­dian rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Kovrig served as a diplo­mat in China un­til 2016 and had been work­ing for the In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group, a non-gov­ern­men­tal agency. Spa­vor is di­rec­tor of the Paektu Cul­tural Ex­change, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that fa­cil­i­tates sport­ing, cul­tural, tourism and busi­ness ex­changes with North Korea.

Cit­ing fed­eral pri­vacy law, Global Af­fairs said no fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about Spa­vor’s de­ten­tion could be dis­closed.

In gen­eral, the depart­ment noted, con­sular vis­its from diplo­mats help as­sess the well-be­ing of a Cana­dian ci­ti­zen, clar­ify the na­ture of their de­ten­tion and pro­vide a com­mu­ni­ca­tion link be­tween the in­car­cer­ated per­son and their loved ones.

A source fa­mil­iar with the con­di­tions of Kovrig’s de­ten­tion said last month he was be­ing ques­tioned three times a day and kept in a room with the lights on con­tin­u­ously. The source was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the sit­u­a­tion due to the sen­si­tiv­ity of the mat­ter.

The de­ten­tions of Spa­vor and Kovrig came shortly af­ter Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties in Van­cou­ver ar­rested Meng Wanzhou, a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive with Chi­nese firm Huawei Tech­nolo­gies, who is wanted by the U.S. on fraud charges.

Meng’s ar­rest an­gered Bei­jing and many western an­a­lysts see China’s de­ten­tion of Spa­vor and Kovrig as re­tal­i­a­tion.

Canada says it is merely fol­low­ing stan­dard le­gal pro­to­col in the Meng case, given its long-stand­ing ex­tra­di­tion treaty with the U.S.

Global Af­fairs said it re­mains deeply con­cerned by the ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion of the two Cana­di­ans and re­it­er­ated a call for their im­me­di­ate re­lease.

Canada ap­pre­ci­ates in­ter­na­tional sup­port for the pair and for the rule of law from the United King­dom, France, Ger­many, the Euro­pean Union, the U.S. and Aus­tralia, the depart­ment added.

Separately, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s of­fice re­leased a sum­mary of a call be­tween Trudeau and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe Mon­day night that said they dis­cussed the de­ten­tions and “both re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing and ad­her­ing to jus­tice and the rule of law.”

A Cana­dian par­lia­men­tary del­e­ga­tion vis­it­ing China this week is also press­ing for re­lease of the two men, rais­ing the is­sue dur­ing a meet­ing in Shang­hai with local Com­mu­nist party of­fi­cials.

“They lis­tened, they heard our po­si­tion,” Con­ser­va­tive MP Michael Cooper, a del­e­ga­tion mem­ber, said in an in­ter­view from Shang­hai.

The Chi­nese voiced con­cerns about Meng’s ar­rest and del­e­ga­tion mem­bers ex­plained Canada’s ex­tra­di­tion process, Cooper said.

“We spent some time to em­pha­size to of­fi­cials that this is not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, that this is not some­thing that we as par­lia­men­tar­i­ans or, for that mat­ter, the ex­ec­u­tive branch can re­solve or in­ter­vene in,” he said.

Cooper also stressed the Cana­dian visit is not a “go-along and get-along” tour.

“This was ini­tially sched­uled to be pretty well a rou­tine par­lia­men­tary del­e­ga­tion. But in light of the de­ten­tions of two Cana­di­ans, it’s not busi­ness as usual and we haven’t been act­ing as though it is busi­ness as usual be­cause it’s sim­ply not,” he said.

“It’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal to talk about bi­lat­eral ties, about how do we strengthen the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Canada and China, so long as we have these two Cana­di­ans de­tained.”


Cana­dian diplo­mats met with Michael Spa­vor on Tues­day, who is de­tained in China af­ter be­ing ar­rested last month.

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