BEIJING (ANP / AFP / RTR) – Behind closed doors, a Chinese court has closed the trial of Canadian Michael Spavor, accused of espionage. Representatives from Western countries, including the Netherlands, were denied access to the court in Dandong.
China arrested Spavor businessman and another Canadian diplomat, Michael Covrig, in 2018. It happened after Canada imprisoned CEO Meng Wanzhou of the Chinese company Huawei. This tech company is suspected of violating US sanctions against Iran, and the US has requested their extradition.
The Chinese authorities insist that there is no connection between the two cases, but Canada says that there is no legitimate reason for the arrest of “Michaelz”. A Canadian initiative against the detention of foreign citizens due to diplomatic pressure won the support of the Netherlands and dozens of other countries last month.
Canadian diplomat Jim Nickel said outside the court that the case against Spavor is now closed. He said it was unclear what exactly happened in the courtroom. “It was not a transparent process,” Nickel said. The court announced in a written statement that the verdict would be announced at a later time.
Canadian diplomats waved when a blinded police car drove away from court. Maybe Spavor was at that. Dozens of diplomats from countries such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom also gathered at the court. Canadian Nickel said he appreciated the international support.
His compatriot Kovrig is expected to appear in court next Monday. Like Spavor, he risks life in prison. In China, court cases often lead to convictions.