Canadian consular officials in China visited detained Canadian Michael Spavor on Tuesday but provided no further details on how he is being treated by Chinese authorities.
Mr. Spavor, the founder of a tourism company, and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were arrested by Chinese security officers last month in what appears to be tit-for-tat reprisal for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Ms. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested on Dec. 1 at Vancouver International Airport at the request of the United States, for extradition to the U.S. on allegations of fraud relating to American sanctions against Iran.
“Today, Canadian consular officials in China visited with Michael Spavor. Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to him and his family and will continue to seek further access to Mr. Spavor,” Global Affairs said in a statement. "Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed.”
Global Affairs said embassy officials in Beijing continue to provide consular services to Mr. Kovrig and his family and “will continue to seek further access to Mr. Kovrig.” Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, visited Mr. Kovrig on Dec. 14, shortly after his arrest, but Canadians officials have had no further access.
“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since last month and continues to call for their immediate release,” the department said.
Mr. Kovrig’s employer, the International Crisis Group (ICG), says it has not heard anything directly from him since he was detained and does not know where he is being held.
Karim Lebhour, a spokesperson for the ICG, said he believes Mr. Kovrig is likely facing the same treatment Canadians Julia and Kevin Garratt did when they were detained in China in 2014. Mr. Garratt spent 750 days in Chinese detention and was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage before being deported. Ms. Garratt was detained for six months.
“We are not in a position to share any specific information about the conditions of his detention, but others in similar situations, like the Garratts, have described their condition of detention after having been released. They speak of intensive questioning several times a day, the lights in their room never switched off,” Mr. Lebhour said. “There is no reason to believe that it is otherwise for Michael.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached out to U.S. President Donald Trump to urge him to maintain international pressure on Beijing to release the two Canadians and to leave the U.S. extradition request of Ms. Meng to the courts.
Mr. Trudeau telephoned Mr. Trump to personally convey the importance of the rule of law as American and Chinese negotiators held their first face-to-face trade talks since the two countries agreed on Dec. 1 to a 90-day truce in their trade war.
On Monday’s phone call, Mr. Trump said he was firmly committed to pushing Beijing to free Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor. Britain, Germany, France, the European Union and Australia have also called for the immediate release of the Canadians.
“The Prime Minister thanked the President for the strong statements of support by the United States in response to the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China. The two leaders agreed to continue to seek their release," Mr. Trudeau’s office said.