Experts say Ottawa shouldn’t expect Beijing to do it any favours and free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in return for medical co-operation on the coronavirus. Kovrig (left) and Spavor are shown in these 2018 images taken from video. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

Trudeau says China made ‘obvious link’ between Meng and two Michaels

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested days after Meng Wanzhou’s detention

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Chinese officials made clear in the days following the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor that their imprisonments were linked with Canada’s having detained high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou days earlier.

Trudeau was rebutting a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry who said earlier Monday that his country does not arbitrarily detain people, and that Trudeau’s earlier remarks linking the cases were “irresponsible.”

Trudeau doubled down, saying Chinese officials highlighted an “obvious link” between the arrests of the two Canadians and the RCMP’s arrest of Meng at the Vancouver airport in response to an extradition request from the United States. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018 and Kovrig and Spavor were taken into custody nine days later.

“They made those links from the very beginning, and continue to put political pressure on Canada through that detention,” Trudeau said Monday.

“It has been obvious from the beginning that this was a political decision made by the Chinese government, and we deplore it, and have from the very beginning.”

Trudeau thanked allies, including the United States, that have criticized China for “using arbitrary detentions as a means to political ends.” He said Canada and its allies “around the world” remain united against this Chinese practice.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to release the Canadians, saying they face “groundless” charges of spying.

READ MORE: Pompeo calls on China to release two Michaels, says U.S. stands with Canada

Chinese authorities announced the charges against Kovrig and Spavor on Friday, after the two had spent more than 550 days in prison without access to lawyers or family.

Since January, China has prevented Canadian diplomats from visiting Kovrig and Spavor, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

Trudeau rejected suggestions that Canada should intervene to resolve the Meng case in an attempt to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“We continue to stand up both for the independence of our judicial system and Canadian interests and values,” the prime minister said. “We work behind the scenes and in public to ensure that everyone understands we will continue to work extremely hard to get these Canadians home.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative critic on Canada-China Relations, was critical of former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley and Eddie Goldenberg, a former aide to ex-prime minister Jean Chretien, for advocating for a prisoner exchange to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“Conservatives continue to call on Justin Trudeau to respect the independence of Canada’s judicial system and reject this position by senior Liberal insiders,” said Genuis.

Pompeo said the U.S. is deeply concerned by China’s decision to formally charge Kovrig and Spavor.

“These charges are politically motivated and completely groundless. The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada,” Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.

“Additionally, we echo Canada’s call for immediate consular access to its two citizens, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as China has prohibited such access for almost six months, and the world has no knowledge of the two Canadians’ condition.”

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is living in a luxury Vancouver home while her extradition case wends its way through a British Columbia court.

The United States wants to prosecute Meng for fraud, alleging she lied to banks about her company’s connections with Iran, which could possibly violate U.S. sanctions.

Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the allegations against Meng could constitute a crime in Canada, which is necessary for an extradition. That meant Meng’s case remains before the court, unresolved.

Last week, Meng’s lawyers accused the Americans of misleading the B.C. court and said they are seeking a stay in the proceedings.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaChinaJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

District of Vanderhoof upgrading council chambers

No information has been provided about the specifics of the project.

July update: 200 workers at CGL pipeline camp in Vanderhoof

District not providing information on total revenue being earned from renting land to TransCanada for CGL camp.

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read