... since Chi­nese tech ex­ec­u­tive Meng Wanzhou was ar­rested in Van­cou­ver on Dec. 1. Ex­perts ques­tion China’s claim Cana­dian de­tainees will re­ceive fair trial

StarMetro Vancouver - - FRONT PAGE - PER­RIN GRAUER

Thir­teen Cana­di­ans have been de­tained in China since ex­ec­u­tive Meng Wanzhou was ar­rested in Van­cou­ver on Dec. 1, ac­cord­ing to Global Af­fairs Canada.

The de­ten­tions of three of those 13 — ex-diplo­mat Michael Kovrig, en­tre­pre­neur Michael Spa­vor and teacher Sarah Mciver — were al­ready known to the pub­lic.

Eight of the de­tainees, in­clud­ing Mciver, have re­turned to Canada since their ar­rests, Global Af­fairs spokesper­son Guil­laume Bérubé said in a state­ment. The other seven were not named.

Meng, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of the Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firm Huawei, was re­leased on $10-mil­lion bail to her fam­ily’s Van­cou­ver home on Dec. 11 to await pro­ceed­ings for ex­tra­di­tion to the U.S.

But Kovrig, Spa­vor and three oth­ers not named in Bérubé’s state­ment still re­main in cus­tody at undis­closed lo­ca­tions in China. Kovrig is be­ing kept in a con­tin­u­ously lit room and is ques­tioned sev­eral times daily by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group, Kovrig’s em­ployer.

China’s For­eign Min­istry said in De­cem­ber that both Kovrig and Spa­vor are “sus­pected of en­gag­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties en­dan­ger­ing na­tional se­cu­rity,” though nei­ther have been for­mally charged, pre­clud­ing them from be­ing able to mount any kind of le­gal de­fence.

Canada’s for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter, Chrys­tia Free­land, called their de­ten­tions “ar­bi­trary” in a state­ment sub­mit­ted Thurs­day to the Star.

China’s top pros­e­cu­tor Zhang Jun said in a state­ment on Thurs­day that there is “no doubt” Kovrig and Spa­vor broke China’s laws, adding that the two Cana­di­ans are still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ex­perts have voiced con­cerns about the like­li­hood of due process be­ing granted to Kovrig and Spa­vor, ar­gu­ing that Bei­jing courts are lit­tle more than an in­stru­ment of the state.

Guy Saint-jac­ques, for­mer Cana­dian am­bas­sador to China, be­lieves the pri­mary mo­ti­va­tion be­hind the men’s de­ten­tions is po­lit­i­cal.

For­mer Aus­tralian for­eign min­is­ter Gareth Evans said Tues­day he was “to­tally con­fi­dent” Kovrig’s de­ten­tion was mo­ti­vated by pol­i­tics. Nei­ther Kovrig nor ICG pose any kind of threat to China’s na­tional se­cu­rity, he said. Le­gal sys­tem crit­i­cized. More at thes­tar.com/van­cou­ver


China’s top pros­e­cu­tor, Zhang Jun, said Thurs­day there is “no doubt” that two Cana­dian men de­tained in China vi­o­lated the coun­try’s laws. He added Michael Kovrig and Michael Spa­vor are still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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