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Detained Canadians are in good health: China

China said on Wednesday that two Canadians held for more than 500 days in a case that has roiled diplomatic relations were in “good health”, after authorities suspended consular visits over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig have been in detention since December 2018, an apparent retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. warrant. The United States wants Ms. Meng extradited to face trial on charges related to the Chinese telecom equipment maker’s alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last Thursday — on the 500th day of their detention — that consular visits to the men had been blocked due to a lockdown of prisons.

Asked for updates on the detained pair, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday: “I understand these two people are in good health and the Chinese will always protect their legal rights and interests.” Mr. Geng added that both men have received visits from the Canadian Embassy on multiple occasions, but such visits have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Mr. Geng said “in order to ensure the safety of detainees, Chinese authorities have temporarily suspended consular visits to detainees”, but these may resume once the coronavirus situation eases.

Mr. Trudeau has noted that they “are in a facility in a region that is not particularly affected by COVID-19.” He said that Canada’s Foreign Minister has also protested to his Chinese counterpart over the continued detention of the pair, who are accused of gathering Chinese state secrets.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 5:29:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/detained-canadians-are-in-good-health-china/article31466629.ece

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