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This Sept. 5 marks 1,000 days that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been jailed in China in apparent retaliation for the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada.

To mark this grim milestone, The Globe and Mail is inviting readers to send us hard copy or digital letters that we will forward to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa. These messages may also be featured in our 1,000 days in detention coverage. Let’s show the two Michaels that Canadians have not forgotten about them.

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On the left, Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, talks during a Skype interview in Yangi, China. On the right is Michael Kovrig, a Canadian former diplomat who now advises the International Crisis Group, an independent nongovernmental organization that tries to defuse international conflict. The Globe is collecting letters from Canadians to mark the two Michaels' 1,000 days in detention.The Globe and Mail

Throughout their detention, Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor were interrogated in conditions similar to solitary confinement. Initially, guards even seized Mr. Kovrig’s glasses.

Both men were arrested shortly after Canada detained Ms. Meng, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, in December, 2018, on a U.S. Justice Department extradition request. Ms. Meng is wanted for alleged bank fraud related to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been in Chinese jails for 900 days and counting. The story so far

As tensions rise with China, we need to keep old Cold War lessons in mind

In December, 2020, Mr. Spavor wrote a wish list that offers a glimpse of his life in a Chinese detention centre. On the handwritten note, he asks for a new terry cloth headband and wristbands – “any color is good, surprise me :)” – and a new sleep mask. He adds that the latter should be durable because he uses it “2-3 times a day” – an indication that he is kept under 24-hour lighting.

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Mr. Spavor's request list is heavy with books, specifying exact titles of Chinese study guides, "I need all the practice I can get", he writes, as well as books on amazing stories and guidebooks to language, vocabulary and writing.Handout

Send your letter or message to:

The Globe and Mail – Attention: Two Michaels

351 King Street East, Suite 1600

Toronto, ON

M5A 0N1

Or e-mail

For the two Michaels, the road out of China may go through Washington

With files from Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Nathan VanderKlippe

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Sept. 4 marks 1,000 days in detention for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The story has been corrected to Sept.5.

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