China confirms detention of two Canadians

China confirmed on Thursday that it has informed Canada about the detention of two Canadian citizens, increasing tensions between the countries following the arrest of a Chinese technology executive.

The Associated Press reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were taken into custody on suspicion of "engaging in activities that endanger the national security" of China.

Lu did not say whether the men were provided with attorneys, but said their legal rights "are being safeguarded," the AP reported.

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Both men were arrested Monday, though Kovrig's arrest was reported earlier this week. Officials said at the time there was no immediate connection between his case and that of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou.

Kovrig was reportedly detained in Beijing during a visit to the city. He was working in Hong Kong as a regional adviser for a Brussels-based nongovernmental organization.

Spavor runs Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that handles business, sports and other exchanges and oversees tours of North Korea.

Their detention is likely to ratchet up tensions between Canada and China.

Canadian authorities earlier this month arrested Meng at the request of the U.S., which alleged that Huawei company violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. Her arrest caused financial markets to dip, as it comes amid trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.

China has demanded Meng's release, calling her detention a human rights violation.

A Canadian judge this week granted Meng her release on bail while she awaits proceedings to extradite her to the U.S. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE told Reuters on Tuesday that he would intervene in Meng's case if it would help close a trade deal with China.