The conviction of Michael Spavor in China seen as a means of pressure against Canada

A Canadian businessman detained since 2018 was sentenced, Wednesday, August 11, to eleven years in prison for espionage, a verdict seen as a means of pressure against Ottawa, while the daughter of Huawei founder, Meng Wanzhou, is currently heard in the context of an extradition process to the United States.

Michael Spavor disappeared in December 2018, a few days after the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the world’s number one telecoms company. Since then, the Huawei heiress has been under house arrest in Vancouver, awaiting Canadian justice to rule on her extradition to the United States, which accuses the Chinese technological flagship of bank fraud in order to circumvent sanctions against Iran. .

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“Michael Spavor convicted of espionage for foreigners and unlawful disclosure of state secrets, said Wednesday a court in Dandong (northeast), on the North Korean border, where the Canadian was tried in March. He Was Sentenced to Eleven Years’ Imprisonment, Confiscation of His Personal Property Up to 50,000 Yuan [6 600 euros] and expulsion.

“Unacceptable and unfair”

The expulsion of convicted persons generally takes place at the end of their sentence, but can, in certain cases, be decided earlier. The sentence against Mr. Spavor was announced as Meng Wanzhou appears until August 20 in a Canadian court for a final round of hearings relating to his potential extradition. The verdict should not be delivered for months, however, and the accused will still be able to appeal to higher authorities.

“The conviction of Michael Spavor is absolutely unacceptable and unfair”, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted in a statement. “The verdict for Mr. Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, in the absence of transparency of the legal process, and after a trial which does not meet the minimum standards of international law”, added the leader. The trial was held behind closed doors, as is customary in espionage cases.

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Michael Spavor was a consultant, based in northeast China, from where he organized trips to North Korea, after living in the country for years. He was fluent in Korean and prided himself on knowing Kim Jong-un personally. He notably organized the visit of American basketball player Dennis Rodman in 2013 and 2014, of which the Korean leader is a fan. Mr. Spavora’s arrest took place in December 2018, nine days after Meng, just like his compatriot, Michael Kovrig, a diplomat on sabbatical leave working since February 2018 for the NGO International Crisis Group.

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