Politics

Trudeau says China invented charges for Canadian detainees after Meng's arrest

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that China concocted national security charges to pin on Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig following the arrest of Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver — smacking down a claim by China's ambassador that the cases are not linked.

PM says Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained on 'trumped-up national security charges'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that China concocted national security charges to pin on Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig following the arrest of Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver — smacking down a claim by China's ambassador that the cases are not linked.

"It is obvious that the two Michaels were arrested on trumped-up national security charges days after we fulfilled our extradition treaty responsibilities toward our ally, the United States," Trudeau told reporters during a news conference today.

Kovrig, a former diplomat who was working for an international non-profit group, and Spavor, an entrepreneur who promotes tourism and investment in North Korea, are Canadian citizens who were detained separately by China more than two years ago.

They were arrested in December 2018 shortly after Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian officials in Vancouver.

Meng was arrested on a U.S. extradition request over allegations that she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The two men stand accused of spying on China.

Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, and remain detained. (The Canadian Press, The Associated Press)

Trudeau's comments came after China's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, tried to put some distance between the two cases during an interview this weekend with CBC News.

Cong was pressed to say why — if the cases are not linked — he brought up Meng's confinement to her mansion in Vancouver when asked about the two Canadian prisoners. Cong said there is clear evidence affirming their guilt but "there's nothing connecting" their case with Meng's.

"Chinese officials at the time were very clear that they were absolutely connected as a frame," said Trudeau.

"Nothing the ambassador can say now will dissuade me from understanding that it is indeed the case."

WATCH | Trudeau says China is holding Kovrig and Spavor on 'trumped-up national security charges'

Trudeau says China is holding Kovrig and Spavor on "trumped-up national security charges"

7 months ago
0:42
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refuted claims by China's ambassador today that the case of the two detained Canadians and that of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou are not connected. 0:42

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