China sentences Canadian to eleven years in prison for espionage

Spavor’s case is considered one of several examples of China’s “hostage diplomacy” in connection with the Huawei founder’s daughter held in Canada. Almost three years after his arrest, the businessman is now receiving his sentence.

Against a backdrop of diplomatic tensions, a Canadian businessman has been sentenced to eleven years in prison in China. A court in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong this Wednesday found Michael Spavor guilty of espionage and obtaining state secrets.

Spavor was taken into custody in China in December 2018 just like his compatriot Michael Kovrig, shortly after the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada. Beijing is therefore accused of “hostage diplomacy.” The trials of the two Canadians took place in March. Since their detention, they have had almost no contact with the outside world.

Extradition proceedings in Canada

Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is accused of bank fraud in the U.S. in connection with sanctions violations against Iran. A trial is in its final stages in Canada to decide whether to extradite the businesswoman to the US.

Former diplomat Kovrig is also facing trial in China on espionage charges. However, no verdict has been reached against him yet.

Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained since Meng’s arrest. As a result, at least three Canadian drug smugglers have been sentenced to death in China.

Just Tuesday, an appeals court upheld the death sentence of Canadian drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg. Initially, Schellenberg had received a long-term prison sentence. Shortly after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, however, the sentence had been changed to a death sentence. China has rejected connections between the proceedings against the Canadians and the arrest of Meng Wanzhou.