China formally arrests 2 Canadians in case linked to Huawei

Canada not ruling out following U.S. steps with Huawei ban

Chinese officials have accused Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor with stealing state secrets for a foreign organisation, a serious allegation which in its most extreme cases can result in the death penalty.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig is "suspected of collecting state secrets and intelligence", while businessman Michael Spavor is suspected of "stealing and illegally offering state secrets" overseas, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) told a regular briefing.

"We reiterate our demand that China immediately release Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor", said a department spokesperson in a statement.

"Canada strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest as we condemned their arbitrary detention on December 10 [last year]", Global Affairs Canada said in a statement to the Globe and Mail newspaper.

In March, China accused the two of involvement in stealing state secrets.

On Thursday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman deployed similar language to rebut Canada's frustrations over the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor.

The two men - Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a China-based businessman who organized trips to North Korea - were detained last December.

"I need to make it clear to the Canadian side that, like we said on previous occasions, China has taken compulsory measures on the two Canadians in accordance with law", Lu added. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of the US They have since languished in China's opaque legal system, allowed sporadic visits by Canadian authorities, but denied access to lawyers.

China has repeatedly demanded Ms Meng be released, and has reacted angrily to extradition proceedings against her in a Canadian court.

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China has said it is fully guaranteeing both men's lawful rights. China has also never announced where the men are being held.

Meng has been allowed to live in her Vancouver mansion, although her mobility is limited.

Meng, 47, is the daughter of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei.

Washington, meanwhile stepped up its battle against Huawei on Wednesday, effectively barring the company from the United States market and restricting U.S. sales to the firm. The US has charged her with fraud linked to alleged violation of sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. has pressured other countries to limit their use of Huawei's technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

Meng was released from jail in December on $10 million bail and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and pay for her security guards.

Two other Canadians convicted of drug trafficking, meanwhile, have been sentenced to death.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canadians thinking of travelling to China should consult with Global Affairs Canada.

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