Canadian officials visit former diplomat Michael Kovrig in custody in China
- Canada’s foreign ministry complains about ‘arbitrary’ detention of citizens
- Kovrig detained on suspicion of stealing state secrets
Diplomats have visited a Canadian whose detention in China is believed to be an attempt to pressure Canada to release Huawei executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou.
Consular officials visited Michael Kovrig on Monday, the country’s diplomatic service said.
Chinese state media have accused Korvig, a former diplomat and Asia expert at the International Crisis Group, acted with Canadian businessman Michael Spavor to steal state secrets.
Both were arrested on December 10 after Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 at the request of US authorities who want her extradited to face fraud charges in connection with US sanctions against Iran.
Global Affairs Canada said it was concerned about the men’s “arbitrary” detentions and called for their immediate release.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is accused of lying to banks about the company’s dealings with Iran in violation of US trade sanctions. Her lawyer argued that comments by US President Donald Trump suggested the case against her was politically motivated.
Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of Huawei’s technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.
China and the US are embroiled in a trade dispute that has beleaguered financial markets.
Another Canadian held in China, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was resentenced to death in January in a drug case following Meng’s detention. His case is under appeal.