Michael Spavor: Canadian jailed for 11 years in China on spying charges

A court in China has convicted a Canadian businessman of espionage and sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Michael Spavor has been detained since 2018, after being arrested with fellow Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig.

The verdict will test a strained relationship between the Canadian and Chinese governments.

It comes as an extradition battle involving Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, takes place in Canada.

Critics have accused China of treating both Spavor and Kovrig as political bargaining chips, held as part of what is known as “hostage diplomacy”.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the Dandong court said: “For the crime of spying and illegal provision of state secrets abroad [Spavor] has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, confiscation of 50,000 yuan ($7,715: £5,578) worth of personal property and deportation.”

The statement did not explicitly state when the deportation would take place but China typically deports convicted foreigners only after they have completed their prison sentence.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the conviction was “absolutely unacceptable and unjust”.

“The verdict for Spavor comes after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law,” he said in a STATEMENT. BBC

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