China allows Michael Kovrig telephone call to sick father
Kovrig and fellow Canadian Michael Spavor have been in detention since December 2018
The Chinese embassy in Canada says Michael Kovrig has been allowed to have a telephone conversation with his father, who is very ill.
The embassy said in a statement that it allowed this for humanitarian reasons.
The embassy said it has also provided better food to Kovrig and fellow Canadian detainee Michael Spavor to strengthen their immunity in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Kovrig, a diplomat on leave who was working with the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been imprisoned in China since December 2018 in what is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada's arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou nine days earlier.
Friday's Chinese statement also maintains the hardline take by Beijing since the events of December 2018, which have plunged Sino-Canadian relations to a new low.
It says Kovrig and Spavor are "suspected" of endangering China's national security and their cases are being handled lawfully, while the Canadian government "cannot explain which law of Canada Ms. Meng Wanzhou violated."
The Canadian government maintains the "two Michaels" are being arbitrarily detained.
Meng was arrested by the RCMP on an extradition request from the United States.
Meng is out on bail and living in a luxury Vancouver home, as her extradition hearing remains before a British Columbia court.