In a startling revelation, Michael Spavor, one of the two Canadians detained by China for nearly three years, has claimed that he unknowingly participated in intelligence gathering activities and is now seeking compensation from the Canadian government. The detention of Spavor and his fellow Canadian, Michael Kovrig, from 2018 to 2021 had severely strained bilateral relations between China and Canada.
Spavor, who had previously provided information on North Korea to Kovrig, alleges that he was unaware that this information would be passed on to Canada and its intelligence partners, leading to their eventual incarceration. Seeking justice, Spavor is now seeking millions of dollars in compensation from Ottawa, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.
These allegations, however, have been denied by Kovrig, who called them unfounded. Similarly, Canada’s foreign ministry, citing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statements in 2021, has dismissed the espionage charges as baseless. Spavor’s lawyer has chosen not to comment on the matter.
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa, on the other hand, has responded to Spavor’s claims, stating that they “fully expose Canada’s hypocrisy.” In a strongly-worded statement, the embassy accused Canada of using the issue of arbitrary detention as a means to deflect attention from its own faults. The embassy added that Canada’s actions were like a thief crying “stop thief.”
It is crucial to note that during their period of detention, Ottawa had vehemently denied the spying charges against the two Canadians, blaming China for their arbitrary detention in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018. Meng, the daughter of the founder of Huawei Technologies, was taken into custody in Canada at the request of the United States.
All three individuals were eventually released in September 2021. Despite their release, Canada’s stance on their innocence remains firm. In a statement, the Canadian government expressed its continued belief that perpetuating the notion of espionage involvement by either Michael would only serve to uphold a false narrative surrounding their detainment in China.
Michael Spavor, known for his business facilitating tourist visits to North Korea, resided near the North Korean border and was one of the few Westerners to have met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On the other hand, Kovrig worked as a diplomat in Beijing, collecting information on security and stability matters in China. He was arrested while on leave from his diplomatic role and working for a non-profit organization based in Hong Kong.
The strained relationship between Ottawa and Beijing continues to endure, with recent accusations of Chinese attempts to intimidate Canadian Members of Parliament leading to the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat in May. Furthermore, a public inquiry has been initiated to investigate alleged Chinese interference in Canadian elections, although these claims have been deemed groundless by Beijing.
Q: What are the new allegations made by Michael Spavor?
A: Michael Spavor has alleged that he unknowingly participated in intelligence gathering activities and is seeking compensation for his detainment from the Canadian government.
Q: What was the response from Michael Kovrig?
A: Michael Kovrig denied Spavor’s allegations, stating that they were unfounded.
Q: What is Canada’s position on the espionage charges?
A: Canada maintains that the espionage charges against both Michaels are unfounded and perpetuate a false narrative.
Q: How did China respond to Spavor’s claims?
A: The Chinese embassy in Ottawa accused Canada of hypocrisy and deflecting attention from its own faults, referring to their actions as a thief crying “stop thief.”