China set to try two Canadians held in relation to Meng Wanzhou arrest

Beijing’s People’s Congress hall | HelloRF Zcool:Shutters tock.png

The two Canadians held by Beijing ostensibly on espionage and national security charges will soon face trial in China, Chinese state media said today.

The report, published by Chinese publication Global Times (which has links to the ruling Chinese Communist Party), said Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor “will soon be tried” according to sources “close to the matter.”

Kovrig and Spavor were both arrested in 2018, shortly after Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request for fraud and money-laundering charges. Most observers say the arrest of the two Michaels is a retaliatory measure by Beijing for Canada’s arrest of Meng as she tried to connect to a flight to Mexico.

The Meng extradition hearings resume on Monday with five straight weeks of proceedings, followed by what’s expected to be B.C. Supreme Court’s official judgment on whether the Huawei executive will be sent to the United States to face trial or not.

Beijing has denied the two cases are linked, accusing Kovrig of “having used an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information,” the report said. Spavor, meanwhile, is accused of supplying information to Kovrig.

Meng’s defence has brought up the issue of political discussions in the U.S./Canada about freeing the two Michaels – as well as that case’s links to the Meng case – as evidence of the current extradition proceedings being tainted by outside interference. The defence has asked the court to stay the proceedings based on that charge.