Canadian Michael Spavor sentenced to 11 years in Chinese prison for espionage – National
A Canadian man detained in China for over two and a half years has been convicted of espionage by a Chinese court and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
A guilty verdict in the case of Michael Spavor, who was detained by Chinese authorities in 2018, was announced by a local court in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong on Tuesday.
The Dandong Intermediate Court said Spavor will be deported, but it was not clear when, based on a statement on the court’s website. The court also said 50,000 yuan ($CAD 96,600) of Spavor’s personal assets will be confiscated.
Espionage is punishable in China by life in prison with a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Spavor along with Michael Kovrig was detained in China in December 2018 — in apparent retaliation — just days after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver by RCMP at the behest of American authorities.
The U.S. has charged Meng with violating sanctions on doing business with Iran and other counts of corporate espionage, and is seeking her extradition. Meng and Huawei, along with Beijing, have denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
The two Michaels were charged with espionage in June 2019.
While China has denied that Kovrig and Spavor’s arrests were a retaliatory measure, officials had suggested that the pair could be released if Meng is allowed to return home to China and the case against her is dropped. Canada has refused to entertain such an exchange.
Kovrig and Spavor both faced closed-door trials over spying charges in March that ended without verdicts. Canadian officials were barred from attending both trials.
As of Tuesday, there was no word on a decision for Kovrig.
Michael Spavor trial in China ends without a verdict
Second verdict in two days
The verdict comes a day after a Chinese court rejected the appeal in the case of another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, upholding his death penalty sentence on Monday. Canada strongly condemned the “arbitrary” decision by China.
Schellenberg was detained by Chinese authorities in December 2014 and was formally charged with drug smuggling in January 2015. His initial 15-year verdict on drug smuggling charges was overturned and a death sentence was issued in January 2019 following a retrial.
After Monday’s appeal, the Higher People’s Court of Liaoning Province said the sentence was appropriate and the lower court’s procedures were legal. It sent the case to China’s supreme court for review.
The detentions have soured relations between Canada and China.
Chinese court upholds death sentence against B.C. man
“I know how hard our athletes are training for Beijing, but we are approaching a point where it won’t be safe for Canadians, including Olympic athletes, to travel to China,” O’Toole said.
Speaking to reporters on Monday night, Canada’s Ambassador to China said China’s decision to move forward with verdicts in two court cases involving Canadians this week is no coincidence.
“It is not a coincidence that these are happening right now, while the case is going on in Vancouver,” Dominic Barton told reporters.
Ahead of the decision on Tuesday, a former Canadian ambassador to China said Beijing wants to press Ottawa to free Meng by giving Spavor a “very harsh sentence”.
“The Chinese government has indicated that there would be no progress as long as Ms. Meng is in Canada,” said Guy Saint-Jaques in an interview with Global News.
— With files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore and Reuters
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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