Wife of Canadian Detained in China Calls for Release on the Eve of Trial | News from Canada


Michael Kovrig’s wife tells CBC News that she hopes Canada, the United States and China can find a diplomatic solution to his release.

The wife of Michael Kovrig, one of two Canadians detained in China for more than two years on espionage charges, renewed her calls for the couple’s immediate release on the eve of Kovrig’s trial in a Chinese court.

In an interview with CBC News on Sunday, Vina Nadjibulla urged Canada, the United States and China to find a diplomatic solution that would lead to the release of Kovrig, a former diplomat and businessman Michael Spavor.

“Those who have the power to end this unjust and arbitrary detention must, I believe, do everything possible to do so,” Nadjibulla said.

“What will really make a difference for Michael and for Michael Spavor now is concerted diplomatic efforts and efforts by the three governments to find a way forward. It has gone on for too long. It doesn’t help anyone.

Ottawa and Washington officials view couple’s case as retaliation for Canada’s 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition warrant from the United States, where she is wanted for fraud.

The situation led to a deterioration in diplomatic relations between Canada and China, which dismissed accusations that it detained Spavor and Kovrig in response to Meng’s arrest.

Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei, has denied any wrongdoing and is fight the US extradition request in a Canadian court.

Meanwhile, Spavor and his lawyer appeared during a hearing on Friday, the Dandong Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement posted on its website. The court will later set a date to deliver a verdict, he said.

Jim Nickel, charge d’affaires of the Embassy of Canada in China, had denounced a lack of transparency and consular access, diplomats not being allowed to participate in the hearing.

Canada’s Foreign Office said on Sunday that Canadian diplomats could not attend Kovrig’s hearing on Monday, Global News reported.

In a statement, Spavor’s family called for the unconditional release of the two men.

“Michael is just an ordinary Canadian businessman who has done extraordinary things to build constructive ties between Canada, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” they said.

“He loved living and working in China and would never have done anything to offend the interests of China or the Chinese people.”

The International Crisis Group, where Kovrig had worked as a senior advisor for Asia, also last week urged Chinese authorities to release him.

Protesters in Vancouver, Canada demand the release of Michael Spavor, left, and Michael Kovrig, in March 2019 [File: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters]

“From the time he was arrested, the political nature of his case has been clear,” ICG Acting Chairman Richard Atwood said in a statement.

“What is happening in the Chinese legal system does not change that. After 830 days of imprisonment, Michael should be released immediately so that he can return home to his relatives. “

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made the release of Kovrig and Spavor a priority for his government, appealing to US President Joe Biden, whose administration has promised to take a “difficult approach” in China.

“Human beings don’t trade chips… We’re going to work together until we get them back safely,” Biden said on February 23 after meeting Trudeau.

The Biden administration’s relationship with Beijing got off to a rocky start last week, as U.S. and Chinese officials met for their first high-level in-person talks since Biden took office. The two sides exchanged beards and reprimands during the two-day meeting in Alaska.





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