Two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — have been formally arrested by the Chinese government for espionage-related offences and violating China’s national security after being detained without charges since December, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Thursday.
Spokesperson Lu Kang told reporters in his daily briefing that Kovrig has been arrested for “gathering state secrets” and Spavor has been arrested for “stealing secrets and illegally providing them to overseas forces.”
He did not specify when both men were charged, but said it was “recently.”
Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, a businessman and entrepreneur, were detained Dec. 10 — days after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, who has since been released on bail.
Canadian officials previously told the Star Kovrig and Spavor were being held in retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
“The fact that both men were picked up shortly after Wanzhou’s arrest and never formally charged with any crime indicated from the outset that these were politically motivated, retaliatory arrests,” she told the Star. “If China has concerns about Wanzhou’s case, there are plenty of ways to raise such concerns that serve China’s interests and reputation much better than violating the human rights of innocent Canadians.”
Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to the Star’s request for comment, but previously said Kovrig and Spavor have not had access to lawyers or their families.
With files from the Associated Press.
Temur Durrani is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @temurdur