Closed-Door Hearing of Second Canadian Charged with Espionage Begins in China

The espionage trial of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig began Monday behind closed doors in a Beijing courtroom. Kovrig’s trial is being held just three days after another Canadian, entrepreneur Michael Spavor, was put on trial in a closed door hearing on espionage charges in the northeastern city of Dandong.   Both Kovrig and Spavor were arrested separately in December 2018 days after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies, in Vancouver on a U.S. warrant.   Diplomats from several nations, including Canada and the United States, gathered outside the Beijing courthouse where Kovrig is being tried. The diplomats said they have been barred from attending the trial on what China claims are national security reasons.Policemen wearing face masks chat each other at No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing, March 22, 2021.Spavor’s trial last Friday, in which diplomats were also barred, ended without a verdict being rendered.   The arrests of Kovrig and Spavor have plunged relations between Ottawa and Beijing to their lowest levels in decades. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denounced China’s actions as “completely unacceptable, as is the lack of transparency around these court proceedings.” Meng remains under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights the extradition warrant from the U.S. As chief financial officer of Huawei — one of the world’s largest manufacturers of smartphones — Meng is accused of lying to U.S. officials about Huawei’s business in Iran, which is under U.S. sanctions.   The U.S. has also warned other countries against using Huawei-built products, suspecting the Chinese government of installing spyware in them.   

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