Canadian activist Kevin Garratt charged with spying and stealing China’s state secrets

Garratt is the latest foreign citizen working in an international NGO to be targeted by Beijing after Swedish citizen Peter Dahlin was detained and deported for "endangering China’s national security"

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 2016, 11:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 2016, 10:09am

A Canadian Christian activist who helped provide humanitarian aid to North Koreans has been indicted of spying and stealing China’s state secrets.

Kevin Garratt had been indicted by prosecutors in Dandong city, China’s main border town with North Korea in northeast Liaoning province, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

READ MORE: ‘It’s wildly absurd’: Son of Canadian Christian activists held in China spying probe dismisses allegations

Chinese authorities had found evidence of Garratt accepting tasks from Canadian espionage agencies to gather intelligence in China, the news agency said, without elaborating.

Garratt is the latest foreign citizen working for an international NGO to be targeted by Beijing. Swedish citizen Peter Dahlin was detained in China three weeks ago and deported after making a confession on state-run CCTV.

Dahlin, 35, co-founded the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, which provided legal assistance.

Xinhua said Dahlin’s detention was part of a police operation to “smash” an “illegal organisation that sponsored activities jeopardising China’s national security”. Dahlin’s organisation had gathered and fabricated information about China, it said.

Garratt and his wife, originally from Vancouver, had lived in China for 30 years before being taken away in August 2014.

READ MORE: China deports detained Swedish civil rights activist Peter Dahlin

The couple was suspected of stealing secrets of China’s military research, according to Xinhua. They were under investigation by local branch of the state security authorities, it added.

Julia Dawn Garratt, the wife, was released on bail in February 2015, after she was held for six months. She was barred from leaving mainland China for a year, according to a statement by the couple’s lawyer. Her husband had been relocated to “a more formal detention centre at an unknown location”, the statement said.