Two Canadians were detained shortly after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on charges of espionage.
Two Canadians who have been detained by China for more than two years in what Canada considers punishment for the arrest of a senior Huawei official accused of extradition to the United States are in good physical and mental condition the Ottawa ambassador to Beijing said on Tuesday.
The arrests came shortly after Canadian police arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
The two Canadians have been detained without access to a lawyer or their families and, for months, authorities have prevented even consular officials from visiting them, citing the risk of coronavirus. In June, China announced that it was prosecuting the two men for espionage.
“They are both in very good health, physically and mentally,” Ambassador Dominic Barton told a special parliamentary committee on Canada’s ties with China.
“I’m deeply inspired by their resilience and their state of mind – it’s amazing considering what they’re going through… they’re very, very strong and it’s remarkable,” he added.
Canada has made the return of the two men a priority and rejected Beijing’s insistence that their detentions were unrelated to Meng’s arrest.
Barton said he was cleared for virtual visits in October after months of pressure and also spoke with the two one-on-one last month. Meng is currently out on bail while his case is brought to court and lives in his Vancouver mansion.
In a statement marking two years after Kovrig’s arrest, his employer, Crisis Group, called his detention “unjust” and “a case of politically motivated hostage diplomacy that deeply damages China’s global reputation. . His only offense was being a Canadian citizen who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ”.
– Bonnie Glaser / Ge Laiyi (@BonnieGlaser) December 7, 2020
– Guy Saint-Jacques (@ guysaintjacque1) December 7, 2020
Reuters news agency reported last week that US prosecutors were discussing a plea deal with Meng’s lawyers that would resolve the criminal charges against her and allow her to return to China.
The Crisis Group said it was time for China to do “the right thing”.
“China has every right to aspire to a greater role in world affairs,” said Frank Giustra, co-chair of the board of directors of Crisis Group. “He does not have the right to unjustly detain people. Its legitimate aspirations will inevitably be undermined by its arbitrary practice, which will have a chilling effect on all – members of the business community, diplomats, journalists, academics and researchers – who wish to visit China.
To mark the two years since Kovrig and Spavor were detained, a campaign has also been launched to rally support in Canada and elsewhere for the release of the men. The #freechinashostages initiative aims to flood Chinese embassies and consulates with cards and messages of support to the two men.