Chinese court sentences Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison

As the Meng Wanzhou hearings hit its final stretch, Chinese courts continued its series of verdicts against Canadians held in the Chinese legal system, sentencing Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison.

Spavor was one of two Canadians (the other being former diplomat Michael Kovrig) arrested shortly after the arrest of Meng – Huawei Technologies’s CFO – on Dec. 1, 2018 on a U.S. extradition request for fraud and money laundering. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Dandong (located in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning) announced Spavor has been sentenced to the 11-year jail term, along with the confiscating of 50,000 RMB ($9,641) in personal possessions. After his prison term is completed, Spavor will be deported from China, the statement added.

Spavor was charged and convicted by Chinese court of espionage and providing state secrets. Most western observers say that both his and Kovrig’s detentions were likely retaliation for Canada’s carrying-out of the U.S. request to arrest Meng.

Only one day earlier, Chinese courts also upheld the death sentence of Canadian Robert Schellenberg, who was convicted of smuggling methamphetamine in China. Like in the Schellenberg case, Canadian foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau condemned Beijing’s decision.

“This decision is rendered after a legal process that lacked both fairness and transparency, including a trial that did not satisfy the minimum standards required by international law,” Garneau said in his statement. “We have maintained for more than 2 and a half years that the detentions of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are completely arbitrary.

“The thoughts of all Canadians are with Michael Spavor and his family following his unjust conviction and ongoing arbitrary detention.”

Among Ottawa’s key complaints to Beijing was the fact that Canadian diplomats was denied access to Spavor’s hearing on March 19, 2021. According to officials, Spavor has 10 days to submit an appeal.

The timing of these court decisions come as the Meng extradition hearings enter its final arguments this week, with court appearances slated to wrap up next week.