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China charges Canadian with spying, stealing state secrets

China's official news agency says a Canadian who was detained more than a year ago has been charged with spying for Canada and stealing Chinese state secrets.

Ottawa says it's concerned about the charge, monitoring developments

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, shown here flanked by their son Peter and daughter Hannah, were detained in Aug. 2014 near the border with North Korea. They were accused of stealing Chinese military secrets. Julia Garratt was later released on bail. (Simeon Garratt)

China's official news agency says a Canadian who was detained more than a year ago has been charged with spying for Canada and stealing Chinese state secrets.

Xinhua says Kevin Garratt was indicted by prosecutors in Dandong city, near China's border with North Korea, where the former Vancouver man and his wife ran a popular coffee shop and conducted Christian aid work.

Garratt and his wife Julia — who have lived in China for 30 years — were arrested in August 2014. Julia was released on bail in February 2015.

The Xinhua report says that during an investigation Chinese authorities found evidence that implicates Garratt in accepting tasks from "Canadian espionage agencies to gather intelligence in China."

Son refutes espionage allegation

Their son, Simeon Garratt, who lives in Vancouver, has denied his parents were involved in espionage.

The accusations against the couple in August 2014 came about a week after Canada accused a China-sponsored hacker of infiltrating Canada's National Research Council, the country's top research and development organization.

In Ottawa, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Canada is concerned about the charge against Garratt, noting that it has raised the matter with Chinese officials at "high levels."

The spokesperson said consular officials are providing assistance to Kevin and Julia Garratt and are monitoring developments.

Xinhua said the Garratt case will be tried at the Dandong Intermediate People's Court.

There was other news this week involving westerners accused of "criminal activity" in China.

The Chinese government deported a Swedish man it accused of training and funding unlicensed lawyers in China, after he made a confession that was broadcast on state television. A Swedish Embassy spokesman confirmed Tuesday that Peter Dahlin had left China.

Dahlin is the co-founder of China Urgent Action Working Group. He was seen on state broadcaster CCTV last week confessing to helping unlicensed lawyers take on cases against the government.

with files by CBC


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