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China sentences Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years

In this file image made from a March 2, 2017, video, Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, talks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China. Associated Press/file

China sentences Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years

A Chinese court on Wednesday sentenced entrepreneur Michael Spavor to prison for 11 years on spying charges, a move critics say is part of Beijing’s “hostage politics” after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was wanted by the United States. The court also fined Spavor $7,700 after finding him guilty of spying and illegally providing state secrets to Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat. Chinese authorities detained Spavor and Kovrig in 2018 days after Meng’s arrest.

How has Canada responded? Canada has rejected China’s handling of the case, claiming Spavor’s trial “failed to meet basic standards” of fairness and defendants' rights. On Tuesday, a Chinese court upheld the death sentence of another Canadian citizen accused of smuggling drugs. Spavor ran a cultural exchange organization that promoted tourism and investments in North Korea. Spavor’s wife, Vina Nadjibulla, said Chinese authorities kept him under such heavy isolation that he did not know about the COVID-19 pandemic until Canadian diplomats told him during a virtual visit in October.

Dig deeper: Read my earlier report in The Sift on Canadian Robert Schellenberg’s death sentence.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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