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Canadian Diplomat Charged Secretly With Spying by Beijing


The trial of a former Canadian diplomat takes places on Monday in a closed courtroom in Beijing.

The trial of Mr. Michal Kovrig, who has been held in China for more than two years on espionage charges, is under way in Beijing without participation of the witnesses or media.

Communist China arrested Kovrig, a former diplomat, and fellow Canadian Mr. Michael Spavor in December 2018, soon after Canadian police detained Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies, on a U.S. warrant.

Beijing insists the detentions are not linked to the detention of Ms. Meng, who remains under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States.

Jim Nickel, charge d’affaires of the Canadian embassy in China, told reporters outside the Beijing court that the trial had begun but that he has been denied access over national security reasons. Diplomats from more than 20 countries, including Canada the United States, were on site ahead of the trial.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said that in dealing with the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the United States will treat these two individuals as if they were American citizens, Mr. William Klein, charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, told reporters as he stood beside Nickel.

On Friday, Spavor, a businessman, also stood trial in a closed courtroom in the northeastern city of Dandong. That court said it would set a date later for a verdict.

Canadian and other diplomats were not allowed to attend Spavor’s trial on what China said were national security grounds, a lack of transparency that Canadian Prime Minister Mr. Justin Trudeau called “completely unacceptable.”

Observers have said the likely convictions of the two men could ultimately facilitate a diplomatic agreement whereby they are released and sent back to Canada.


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