Ottawa says Foreign Ministry officials met Michael Kovrig, who has been detained in China since December 2018, online.
Canada said its officials met former diplomat Michael Kovrig online, who has been detained in China for more than two years in a case related to the detention of an executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
Canada’s Foreign Office said officials led by Ambassador Dominic Barton were granted “virtual consular on-site access” to Kovrig on Thursday. The ministry said it was unable to disclose further details.
Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been in jail since December 10, 2018, just days after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant. .
“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned about the arbitrary detention by the Chinese authorities of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release,” the ministry said.
China claims the couple are suspected of endangering national security, but has also made clear links between their detention and the case against Meng, who is fighting deportation to the United States where she faces accusations of fraud.
Beijing says the detention of Meng, who is under house arrest in a luxury mansion she owns in Vancouver, is politically motivated and has demanded her immediate and unconditional release.
Business with Iran
Chinese prosecutors announced last year that Kovrig had been charged with suspicion of espionage for state and intelligence secrets, and Spavor, on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and unlawfully disclosing state secrets. It is not publicly known where they are being held or under what conditions.
Canadian diplomats were denied all access to the two men from January to October due to coronavirus precautions cited by the Chinese side.
Meng’s arrest severely damaged relations between Canada and China, which sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of Canadian canola.
Washington accuses Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, of using a Hong Kong shell company to cheat the banks and do business with Iran in violation of US sanctions.