China sentences Canadian to 11 years in prison for spying

Canada calls Chinese court verdict ‘absolutely unacceptable, unjust

ANKARA (AA) – A Chinese court on Wednesday sentenced a Canadian to 11 years in prison for spying and ordered authorities to deport him, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.

A judge in Dandong city of northeastern Liaoning province bordering North Korea issued the ruling, which also ordered the confiscation of Canadian citizen Michael Spavor’s personal property.

“For the crime of spying and illegal provision of state secrets abroad, (Spavor) has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, confiscation of 50,000 yuan ($7,715) worth of personal property and deportation,” the court said.

Although the verdict did not specify when the deportation would take place, convicted foreigners are normally deported only after serving their prison sentence in China.

Spavor, who has spent 975 days in Chinese jail since December 2018, was running a “travel and cultural exchange” business between China and North Korea.

He and former diplomat Michael Kovrig – referred to as the “Two Michaels” – were held over spying charges soon after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Canada in December 2018, who is facing extradition to the US.

Kovrig is accused of using a business visa to allegedly steal sensitive information and intelligence “through contacts in China,” and Spavor “being a key source of intelligence for Kovrig.”

‘Absolutely unacceptable, unjust’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the conviction and sentencing “absolutely unacceptable and unjust.”

“The verdict for Mr. Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law,” he said in a statement.

Trudeau said his government’s “top priority remains securing their immediate release” and “we will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible.”

Germany expresses solidarity with Canada

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has sharply criticized China and called for the immediately release of Spavor and Kovrig.

“Germany stands in solidarity with Canada,” Maas said on Twitter.

“The trial against MichaelSpavor was held behind closed doors & his rights were restricted in violation of international law. I call on China to release MichaelSpavor & MichaelKovrig immediately,” he added.


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