China sentences Canadian businessman to 11 years in prison for espionage

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Photo: Canadian Michael Spavor

A Chinese court on Wednesday sentenced Michael Spavor, a Canadian businessman, to 11 years in prison.

Spavor was found guilty of espionage and obtaining state secrets by a court in the north-eastern Chinese city of Dandong.

He is one of several detained Canadians in China whose cases are thought to be tied to Ottawa’s arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer.

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However, China has rejected the connections.

He was taken into custody in December 2018 shortly after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, the finance chief of Chinese telecoms giant, Huawei.

Canadian Michael Kovrig was also detained at around the same time, leading to accusations Beijing was engaging in “hostage diplomacy.”

The daughter of the Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei, is accused of bank fraud in the United States in connection with violating sanctions against Iran.

A trial to determine whether she should be extradited to the U.S. is in its final stages in Canada.

Former diplomat Kovrig is also facing trial on espionage charges but no verdict has been reached against him yet.

Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained since Wanzhou’s arrest.

At least three Canadian drug smugglers have since been sentenced to death.

On Tuesday, an appeal court upheld a death sentence handed to Canadian drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

He had initially received a long prison sentence, but shortly after Wanzhou’s arrest it was changed to a death sentence. (dpa)

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