Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China, are shown in these 2018 images taken from video. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP)

Trudeau dismisses China report anonymously accusing Kovrig, Spavor of espionage

Canadians arrested in December by Chinese authorities accused of violating national security

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dismissing reports in China that two imprisoned Canadians tried to steal state secrets from the People’s Republic.

Trudeau says it is unfortunate China continues to push forward with detentions of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

READ MORE: China accuses detained Canadians of stealing state secrets

They were arrested in December by Chinese authorities and accused of violating the country’s national security more than a week after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies, at the request of the U.S., which wants to extradite her for fraud.

“We are a country of the rule of law. We will ensure that that rule of law is fully respected and we will go through those processes in a proper and rigorous way,” Trudeau told reporters in Prince Edward Island.

“It is unfortunate that China continues to move forward on these arbitrary detentions.”

An anonymously sourced report in China’s state-controlled Xinhua News Agency reported Monday that Kovrig and Spavor worked together to steal state secrets, linking their cases for the first time.

Kovrig and Spavor have been imprisoned without being formally charged or granted access to lawyers, and their Canadian consular visits have been limited to approximately one a month — while Meng has been released on bail and is living in a Vancouver mansion.

Meng’s lawyers said Sunday she would file a civil lawsuit against the Canadian government over her Dec. 1 arrest.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was asked Monday at a briefing in Beijing whether that amounted to a double standard, but he brushed aside the suggestion.

“China has strictly fulfilled our due obligations as required in the China-Canada Consular Agreement,” Lu said, according to a translated version of his remarks posted to his department’s website.

He said China “took compulsory measures” against Kovrig and Spavor, because they were suspected of undermining China’s national security.

“I believe you are well aware that it is common practice for all countries in the world to deal with cases concerning national security in this way,” said Lu.

“China has made necessary consular notifications to the Canadian side and fulfilled our due obligations as required in the China-Canada Consular Agreement.”

As for Meng’s treatment by Canada, Lu said it amounted to “a grave violation of her legitimate rights and interests and also constitutes a serious political incident.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Short-term accommodations in Canada generated an estimated $2.8 billion in 2018

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec generated almost 90 per cent of total revenue

Victoria street repatriated with proper spelling after a century-long mistake

‘Penwill Street’ was named after a Victoria man, but mistakenly spelled ‘Penwell Street’

Juan de Fuca curlers ‘reeling’ after learning rink will be replaced with dry floor

West Shore Parks & Recreation board says curling rinks not getting enough use

Metchosin driver striking a deer heralds a need for caution

Vehicle incident likely not the last of its kind in Greater Victoria

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

View Royal council to discuss proposed 3.5% tax increase tonight

Budget open house to directly precede the council meeting

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Most Read