Chinese court sentences Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years

A man walks inside the detention center where Canadian businessman Michael Spavor is being held on spying charges in Dandong, China on August 11, 2021.

Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

A Chinese court has sentenced Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years on spying charges in case linked to Huawei.

Spavor was detained in 2018 after his government arrested an executive of the Chinese tech giant.

The verdict Wednesday is the latest indication of how Beijing is stepping up pressure on Canada ahead of a court ruling on whether to hand over the executive, Meng Wanzhou, to face U.S. criminal charges.

Spavor and another Canadian were detained in China in what critics labeled “hostage politics” after the executive’s 2018 arrest in connection with possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran.

On Tuesday, another Chinese court rejected the appeal of a third Canadian whose prison term in a drug case was abruptly increased to death following the executive’s arrest.

Canadian Ambassador Dominic Barton was present at the hearing in the city of Dandong, about 210 miles (340 kilometers) east of Beijing on the North Korean border. No word has been given about a trial date for former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was also detained in December 2018 and charged with spying.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies and daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, in Vancouver on U.S. charges of lying to the Hong Kong arm of the British bank HSBC about possible dealings with Iran in violation of trade sanctions.

China’s government has denounced the arrest as part of U.S. efforts to hamper its technology development and demanded Meng’s immediate release.

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