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Politics Consular officials visit detained Canadian Michael Kovrig in China for second time

In this file image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, Michael Kovrig speaks during an interview in Hong Kong.

The Associated Press

Consular officials met with detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig Thursday, the second visit since Chinese authorities arrested him Dec. 10 for allegedly endangering national security.

“Today Canadian consular officials in China visited with Michael Kovrig. Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to him and his family and will continue to seek further access to Mr. Kovrig. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Canadian officials visited entrepreneur Michael Spavor, who was arrested the same day as Mr. Kovrig in what appeared to be a tit-for-tat reprisal for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

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Ms. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested on Dec. 1 at Vancouver International Airport at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to the United States to face bank fraud charges related to sanctions against Iran.

“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,” Global Affairs said.

Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, last visited Mr. Kovrig on Dec. 14.

Mr. Kovrig’s employer, the International Crisis Group (ICG), said it has not heard anything directly from him since he was detained and does not know where he is being held.

ICG spokesperson Karim Lebhour 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 detention and was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage before being deported. Ms. Garratt was detained for six months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been marshalling international support to put pressure on Beijing to free the two Canadians.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted on Thursday that he spoke with Mr. Trudeau and that the European Union “calls for the release of the Canadian citizens in China.”

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Britain, Germany, France and Australia have also called for the immediate release of the Canadians.

On Monday evening, the Prime Minister spoke with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, and both leaders "reiterated the importance of respecting and adhering to justice and the rule of law,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Earlier that day, Mr. Trudeau reached out to U.S. President Donald Trump to urge him to keep up the pressure on Beijing 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 U.S. 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.

Mr. Trump said he was firmly committed to pushing Beijing to free Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor.

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