Chinese prosecutors charged two detained Canadians with spying Friday in an apparent bid to step up pressure on Canada to drop a US extradition request for a Huawei executive under house arrest in Vancouver. Michael Kovrig was charged in Beijing on suspicion of spying for state secrets and intelligence. Michael Spavor was charged in Dandong, a city near the North Korean border, on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and illegally providing state secrets. Both men have been held for 18 months. They were detained shortly after the December 2018 arrest of Meng Wanzhou. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested at the request of US authorities who want her on fraud charges related to trade with Iran.
A Canadian judge ruled this month that the US extradition case against Meng could proceed to the next stage. China has denied any explicit link between her case and the lengthy detention of the two Canadian men, but outside experts see them as tied and Chinese diplomats have strongly implied a connection, the AP reports. Meng has been released on bail while her extradition case proceeds in court and is residing in one of her two Vancouver mansions where she is reportedly working on a graduate degree. Kovrig and Spavor are being held at an undisclosed location and, up to now, have been denied access to lawyers or family members. (China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of Canadian canola, while saying those moves were also unrelated to Meng’s case.)