VAgainst the background of diplomatic tensions, a Canadian businessman has been sentenced to 11 years in prison in China. A court in the northeast Chinese city of Dandong found Michael Spavor guilty of espionage and obtaining state secrets this Wednesday.
Spavor, like his compatriot Michael Kovrig, was taken into custody in China in December 2018, shortly after Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, was arrested in Canada. Beijing is therefore accused of “hostage diplomacy”. The trials against the two Canadians took place in March. Since their arrest, they have had almost no contact with the outside world.
Extradition proceedings in Canada
Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is accused of bank fraud in the United States in connection with violations of sanctions against Iran. In Canada, a process is in its final stages to decide whether to extradite the businesswoman to the United States.
The former diplomat Kovrig is also facing court in China for allegations of espionage. However, no verdict has yet been passed against him.
Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained since Meng’s arrest. As a result, at least three Canadian drug smugglers were sentenced to death in China.
It was only on Tuesday that an appeals court upheld the death sentence against Canadian drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg. Initially, Schellenberg had received a long prison sentence. However, shortly after Meng Wanzhou was arrested, the sentence was changed to a death penalty. China has denied any links between the trials against the Canadians and the arrest of Meng Wanzhou.