Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he remained confident that his government will soon bring home two Canadians detained in China, while renewing criticism of the continuing “arbitrary detention” of the citizens.
Trudeau said Canada is still trying to secure the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, speaking to reporters outside of his home in Ottawa on Friday.
In 2018, shortly after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on an extradition warrant from the United States, Chinese authorities detained Kovrig, a former ambassador, and Spavor, a businessman, on charges of espionage.
“This will be the third Christmas of arbitrary detention in China for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” Trudeau said.
The detention of men in China and the pending extradition case of Meng in Canada have reinforced tensions between the two countries, with Canadian officials regularly hitting Beijing over their record on human rights.
China has repeatedly accused Canada of intervening in its domestic affairs, alleging that the detention of Meng was politically motivated.
In a news conference earlier this month, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Kovrig and Spavor had been charged and tried on suspicion of “endangering the national security of China.”
Trudeau once again had harsh words for China on Friday over the ongoing detention of the men.
In the westernmost Canadian province of British Columbia, meanwhile, proceedings in Meng’s extradition case wrapped up earlier this week.
In early December, media outlets announced that the US Department of Justice was in conversation with Meng’s lawyers to negotiate an agreement that would allow Meng to return to China in return for admitting some wrongdoing.