Canadian jailed for 11 years in China on spying charges

A court in China has convicted a Canadian businessman of espionage and sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Michael Spavor has been detained since 2018, after being arrested with fellow Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig.

The verdict will test a strained relationship between the Canadian and Chinese governments.

It comes as an extradition battle involving Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, takes place in Canada.

Critics have accused China of treating both Spavor and Kovrig as political bargaining chips, held as part of what is known as “hostage diplomacy”.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the Dandong court said: “For the crime of spying and illegal provision of state secrets abroad [Spavor] has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, confiscation of 50,000 yuan ($7715: £5578) worth of personal property and deportation.”

The statement did not explicitly state when the deportation would take place but China typically deports convicted foreigners only after they have completed their prison sentence.

Canadian ambassador to China Dominic Barton on Wednesday said he “condemned” the conviction.

“There is the opportunity for an appeal,” he told reporters outside the court, according to a report by AFP.

Spavor was first arrested in 2018, just days after Ms Meng was detained – and was later charged with espionage. His first trial, which took place in March, ended with no verdict.

Canadian diplomats including the charge d’affaires to China were then denied entry to the court. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the closed-door proceedings “completely unacceptable”.

Spavor is a founding member of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, an organisation which facilitates international business and cultural ties with North Korea.

Separately, Michael Kovrig – who faces the same charges – also went to trial in March, though no verdict has been announced.

On Tuesday, another Canadian citizen lost his appeal against a death sentence for drug smuggling in China.

The court said it upheld Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s sentence because evidence against him was “sufficient”.

Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in jail, but a few days later, Canada detained Ms Meng on a US extradition warrant.

China at the time warned of unspecified consequences unless Ms Meng was released.

Schellenberg later appealed against the 15-year prison term, but instead of reducing his sentence, judges ruled that his previous sentence had been too light and instead sentenced him to death.

At his hearing, the judges said that evidence proved he was more seriously involved in international drug smuggling.

At the time, Zhang Dongshuo, Schellenberg’s lawyer, told Reuters that the sentence should not have been increased because no new evidence was presented at the trial.

Mr Barton said it was “no coincidence” that Schellenberg’s verdict came as Ms Meng’s extradition battle was taking place.

Ms Meng’s court hearings mark the culmination of two-and-a-half years of legal battles.

4 COMMENTS

    • You can’t understand the Western countries’ double standards until you expose them.

      Entire South Asia did nothing when the Australian Government deleted my citizenship and brought me to the street when I made awareness of the Australian Aboriginal people’s and refugees’ hardships. This shows the Australian leaders’ extraordinary power and incapable South Asia. The way Australian political elites use uninformed and uneducated South Asians to keep me in isolation is sickening. Unfortunately, South Asia has become a symbol of ignorance and foolishness. Regrettably, South Asians have been insulting Gandhi and following the West blindly. The West gave enormous hardships to Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, and Nelson Mandela in their own country where they were born. However, South Asians are unable to understand how much the West would make me suffer in a country where I wasn’t born. South Asians who ignore people like me will continue to struggle, the current COVID 19 crisis is a perfect example for South Asia’s future.

      Between 2003 and 2008, I have lifted awareness of the reality of the Australian outback and detention centres while Australia was fighting in Iraq. In 2008, the Australian Government deleted my citizenship and traumatised me as an illegal immigrant. I am a qualified accountant but lost my job due to the government’s disinformation. I could not service my home loan without a job. Subsequently, I had to sell my house. When I had open house inspections for sale, the police would come for a routine check to intimate potential buyers. Eventually, I had to sell my house for a loss. The government made sure that I would not make money from my house to take legal action and it has been isolating me so I will not have the people’s power to expose the truth. The Australian Government wants to make sure that I have no status, and nobody listens to me, especially South Asians. Thirteen years have gone since the government had deleted my citizenship and brought me to the street. But still, I cannot get a professional job due to systematic disinformation.

      Due to my writings, I am broken into pieces and isolated in Australia. I thought Canada is a democratic country and immigrated to Canada under a skill migration program in 2008. But I was arrested on a bogus sexual assault case due to my writings. Eventually, the case was withdrawn, but the police officer told me ‘He had informed the South Asian community and they would believe white police officers than you; basically, you are done in Canada.’ When I attended my uncle’s funeral in the UK, I was denied permission. Eventually, British immigration took my passport and allowed me to attend the funeral then escorted me as a criminal to the return flight and handed my passport to the pilot. I went to Germany in 2011, and I applied for political asylum, but the Germans did not consider my case and did not allow me to work. In 2012, my mother passed away in Sri Lanka, but the Germans refused to give my passport back to attend my mother’s funeral. I could not help my mother in her last days, and I could not attend her funeral; these two incidents are the hardest to endure in my life. I was in New Zealand between 2012 and 2014. I exposed the West’s double standards and wrote I couldn’t get a job due to my writings. Because of my writings, they offered me a job as an accountant. But they delete and change the numbers of my work from the main server to undermine my accounting and tax skills. I was fired from the job as an incompetent accountant; even though I have proved to my manager that someone has been altering my work on the main server by saving the same work on my USB drive.

      Please browse http://www.antany.org for more details, especially to know the struggles of Aboriginal people of Australia and refugees.

  1. Due to my writings, I am broken into pieces and isolated in Australia. I thought Canada is a democratic country and immigrated to Canada under a skill migration program in 2008. But I was arrested on a bogus sexual assault case due to my writings. Eventually, the case was withdrawn, but the police officer told me ‘He had informed the South Asian community and they would believe white police officers than you; basically, you are done in Canada.’ When I attended my uncle’s funeral in the UK, I was denied permission. Eventually, British immigration took my passport and allowed me to attend the funeral then escorted me as a criminal to the return flight and handed my passport to the pilot. I went to Germany in 2011, and I applied for political asylum, but the Germans did not consider my case and did not allow me to work. In 2012, my mother passed away in Sri Lanka, but the Germans refused to give my passport back to attend my mother’s funeral. I could not help my mother in her last days, and I could not attend her funeral; these two incidents are the hardest to endure in my life. I was in New Zealand between 2012 and 2014. I exposed the West’s double standards and wrote I couldn’t get a job due to my writings. Because of my writings, they offered me a job as an accountant. But they delete and change the numbers of my work from the main server to undermine my accounting and tax skills. I was fired from the job as an incompetent accountant; even though I have proved to my manager that someone has been altering my work on the main server by saving the same work on my USB drive.

    Please browse http://www.antany.org for more details, especially to know the struggles of Aboriginal people of Australia and refugees.

  2. South Asian fools not interested to read my writings and do not bother to understand my struggles as a writer, but Chinese and Russians read my writings and become wise to assess the West’s bogus democracy and its tricks.

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