ISSN 2330-717X

China To Try Second Canadian Accused Of ‘Espionage’ – OpEd

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On Monday, China began trying the second Canadian who was arrested in 2018 briefly after the detainment of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada.

The trial of former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who is being accused of espionage, began a couple of days after another Canadian, entrepreneur Michael Spavor who was also arrested in 2018, went on trial. There is no doubt that the Chinese communist regime has fabricated the cases against both Canadian citizens.

On Monday, the Beijing police had already enclosed the courthouse denying entry to Canadian diplomats.

China officially accused Kovrig and Spavor of espionage in June 2020.

Canadian Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Jim Nickel told journalists that the trial has begun and that diplomats are forbidden from entering the courthouse. It is clear that this will be another staged show trial by Beijing used to turn against human rights activists. It is very likely that the court’s ruling will not be in the Canadians’ favor.

“We are deeply concerned that the access to the court has been restricted and that the trial lacks any transparency,” Nickel expressed.

A court official explained to journalists that access to the court has been restricted because it is a case pertaining to national security. Cases of “national security” usually end with the execution of the accused.

Canadian diplomats were also unable to attend Spavor’s trial which took place in the northern Chinese city of Dandong.

The trial lasted less than three hours and did not produce a verdict.

On 1 December 2018, daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei,Meng Wanzhou was detained at Vancouver International Airport after a request by US authorities.

The US issued an extradition request on grounds of Meng circumventing US sanctions against Iran.

Her detainment in Canada took place nine days prior to the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor in China.

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques told the news agency AFP that he expects Kovrig’s trial to be very short.

“The message sent to the US is clear ­– if you want to help these Canadians, make sure that Meng is returned to China as soon as possible,” Saint-Jacques expressed.

Most people accused in China are found guilty by the courts, and both Canadians may face a life sentence, or even the death penalty, if they are found guilty of “spying for foreign nations” and “providing state secrets” to them.

After her detainment, Meng was released on bail and now resides in her mansion in Vancouver under house arrest. It is expected that the US’ extradition request will be fully reviewed by May if appeals do not drag the process out.

The US wants to place Meng on trial for fraud, circumvention of the sanctions imposed against Iran and providing false information to US banks. Her lawyers deny the accusations.

If Meng is found guilty by the court, she could face more than 30 years in jail.

This case is proof that Beijing is willing to kidnap foreign nationals to then be able to engage in blackmail and extortion on the highest level.

*Juris Paiders, journalist for NRA, Chinese policy expert.

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Juris Paiders

Juris Paiders is currently a commentator of Neatkarīgās Rīta Avīze, Assistant Professor and Doctor of Geography at the University of Latvia and Member of the Latvian Geographical Society. Since 1995 he is the Latvian Press Publishers and Editors Association President, as well as since 2007 the President of the Latvian Union of Journalists. He has two cats and likes winter swimming.

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