Second Canadian goes on trial in China on spying charges

BEIJING (AP) — A second Canadian citizen held for more than two years on spying charges in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a senior executive of the telecoms giant Huawei went on trial in Beijing yesterday.

The trial yesterday of analyst and former diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing follows an initial hearing in the case of entrepreneur Michael Spavor in the northeastern city of Dandong on Friday.

Canadian diplomats have been refused access to trials and been told hearings would be held behind closed doors because of alleged national security concerns. Diplomats and journalists have showed up nonetheless to seek information and show support.

Outside Beijing’s second Intermediate Court, Canadian Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Jim Nickel told journalists he had been told the trial had begun, but was barred from entry in what he said was a violation of China’s international and bilateral treaty obligations.

“Michael Kovrig has been detained for more than two years now. He’s been arbitrarily detained and now we see that the court process itself is not transparent,” Nickel told reporters.

“We’re very troubled by this but we thank those who have come out from the embassies in Beijing and the international support that we’ve had for Michael, for Canada and the call that many of us are making for their immediate release.”

Nickel said 26 countries had sent representatives to show their support, including the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Australia and many European nations.