China sets court hearings for two Canadians charged with spying

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Canada's government says two Canadians detained by Beijing more than two years ago on suspicion of espionage will go before Chinese courts in coming days. — AFP pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Canada's government says two Canadians detained by Beijing more than two years ago on suspicion of espionage will go before Chinese courts in coming days. — AFP pic

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OTTAWA, March 18 ― Two Canadians detained by Beijing more than two years ago on suspicion of espionage will go before Chinese courts in coming days, Canada's government said yesterday, again ramping up diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.

China arrested the men in December 2018 shortly after Canadian police detained Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant. She is under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States.

“Our embassy in Beijing has been notified that court hearings for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are scheduled to take place on March 19 and March 22, respectively,” Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

“We believe these detentions are arbitrary, and remain deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these proceedings,” Garneau added.

Beijing insists the detentions are not linked to Meng’s arrest.

Global Affairs Canada spokesman Jason Kung told Reuters in a separate statement that Kovrig's hearing would take place in Beijing and Spavor's hearing would be held in Dandong, a city in the northeastern Liaoning province.

The two men face spying charges and it is unclear how long the process may take, but “there will be a verdict,” a Canadian government source said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought support from US President Joe Biden to counter Chinese influence.

“Human beings are not bartering chips,” Biden said after speaking with Trudeau by video link in February. “We're going to work together until we get their safe return.” ― Reuters

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