Chinese Court Sentences Canadian Businessman to 11 Years In Prison For Spying
A Chinese court has sentenced a Canadian businessman to 11 years in prison for espionage, more than two years after he was first detained.
Michael Spavor, a Beijing-based businessman who regularly traveled to North Korea, was sentenced after being found guilty of spying and illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries, the Dandong Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement Wednesday. The court said Spavor would also be deported, without specifying whether it was before or after he served his prison sentence.
Spavor was detained in December 2018 alongside Canadian Michael Kovrig on espionage charges. The two men were detained following the arrest in Vancouver, Canada, of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, over allegations the company violated United States sanctions on Iran. Meng, whose extradition hearing is now in its final stages, has been held under house arrest in Vancouver since 2018.
BREAKING: #Canadian Michael Spavor has 10 days to appeal #China’s ‘spying’ conviction. Sentence: 11 yrs. Spavor has been detained for 975 days with little contact. Today, 50 diplomats from 25 countries joined #Canada officials in telling China, ‘the world is watching’. @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/2uUNxzDivA
— Janis Mackey Frayer (@janisfrayer) August 11, 2021
Chinese officials have not disclosed any evidence against Spavor or Kovrig, or information relating to their trials, which were held behind closed doors in March. Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton said his government condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the sentence handed down to Spavor, a sentiment echoed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who denounced Spavor’s sentencing Wednesday as “absolutely unacceptable and unjust,” saying in a statement Canada’s top priority is securing the release of the two men.
Please read my statement on China’s unacceptable and unjust conviction and sentencing of Michael Spavor: https://t.co/HkclGFeWCB
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 11, 2021
Chinese courts have a conviction rate of more than 99% and observers say the release of Spavor and Kovrig could now rest on a diplomatic solution, potentially after a face-saving conviction and sentence of time served.
We join our partners in condemning Beijing’s sentencing of Canadian citizen Michael Spavor, and calling on Beijing to immediately release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, both arbitrarily detained for more than two-and-a-half-years. People are not bargaining chips.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 11, 2021