Canadian businessman sentenced to 11 years in Chinese prison

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A Canadian businessman was sentenced to 11 years in a Chinese prison on Wednesday after he was accused of spying.

Michael Spavor was arrested in 2018, just a few days after Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada on a U.S. extradition warrant.

According to The New York Times, Spavor’s case, which has been deemed by Canada as a political hostage-taking, could be appealed, though it is rare that criminal cases in China are overturned.

In an online statement, the court in Dandong, China, noted that Spavor, who had done business in the country, had been found guilty of providing state secrets to a foreign recipient and that he would be deported. No other details were included.

“For the crime of providing state secrets, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, confiscation of personal property of RMB 50,000, and deportation,” the court said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau slammed the decision, saying on Wednesday that China failed to provide transparency in Spavor’s case and that his sentencing had been “absolutely unacceptable and unjust.”

“The verdict for Mr. 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,” Trudeau said in a statement.

He also pointed to the case of another Canadian, Michael Kovrig, who served as a former diplomat and was also arrested in late 2018.

“For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible,” Trudeau said.

While it is uncertain if the two Canadians will be released by China, their detainment has caused a swell of tensions between Beijing and Ottawa, the Times noted.

Earlier this month, President Biden pledged to help Trudeau to get Spavor and Kovrig home.

“The President condemned their arbitrary detention and reiterated his commitment to stand strong with Canada to secure their release,” the White House said at the time.

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