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China to begin trial of two Canadians for alleged espionage soon, state media reports

   March 12, 2021 1:21 AM
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by Steven Jiang and James Griffiths, CNN

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China Canadians
 
Beijing (CNN)Two Canadian citizens charged with espionage in China could go on trial "soon," according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained since December 2018 and were charged in June last year with spying. In an article published late Thursday, the Global Times said that their cases had previously been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic but were now proceeding. While the article did not carry a byline, on Twitter, the paper's editor Hu Xijin said that an anonymous source had told him "China's judicial department will conduct first trial over these two cases soon."

Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG), is accused by the Chinese authorities of "stealing sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017," while Spavor, a businessman based in Beijing with a focus on North Korea, is accused of providing intelligence to Kovrig. Chinese officials have not disclosed any evidence against the two men or information detailing their alleged crimes, but have said, "the facts are clear and evidence is solid." The two men were detained following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, over allegations the company violated United States sanctions on Iran. Meng has been held in Canada ever since, awaiting potential extradition to the US. After Kovrig and Spavor were charged with espionage last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the "political" nature of their case, saying their detention was a "decision made by the Chinese government and we deplore it."

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