Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China since the arrest of a Chinese giant Huawei leader on December 1st, eight of whom were released, a spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
“Foreign Affairs is aware that 13 Canadian citizens have been detained in China, excluding Hong Kong, since December 1, 2018. We can confirm that at least eight of them have been released,” AFP told AFP. Guillaume Bérubé, spokesman for the ministry.
Canadian detainees include ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor, arrested by the Chinese authorities on 10 December for “national security threatening” activities, and teacher Sarah McIver, who has been released and returned since. Canada, said the spokesman.
He declined to give further details, including the identity of other Canadian detainees, in accordance with privacy legislation.
Meanwhile, about 200 Canadians are currently in trouble with the Chinese courts for alleged offenses of various kinds, many of whom are on conditional release, said the ministry spokesman.
“This number has remained relatively stable, there has been no marked increase or decrease in recent years,” he said.
By comparison, nearly 900 Canadians are currently facing justice in the United States, he noted.
Many observers believe that the detention of Michael Kovrig, a staff member of the think tank International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, a consultant who is frequently in contact with North Korea, is a retaliatory measure after the arrest in early December in Vancouver. Huawei, China’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, at the request of US justice.
Washington suspects it of complicity in fraud to circumvent US sanctions against Iran. She was released under conditions.
The head of Canadian diplomacy Chrystia Freeland, supported by the United States and several European countries, has for its part repeatedly called for the immediate release of MM. Kovrig and Spavor, detained by Ottawa for arbitrary reasons. China has expressed its “categorical opposition” to such release.