Ex-Canadian diplomat ‘detained’ in China

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Hong Kong, Dec 12 (IANS) A former Canadian diplomat who is currently an employee of the International Crisis Group (ICG) has reportedly been detained in China, the non-profit organization said on Wednesday.

It said in a statement that Michael Kovrig, who is ICG’s northeast Asia senior adviser, was detained on Monday night by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security and called for his “immediate release”, CNN reported.

“Crisis Group has received no information about Michael since his detention and is concerned for his health and safety,” the ICG said.

Kovrig’s reported disappearance came in the wake of Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on December 1 in Vancouver. Tensions have been high between the countries since then.

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Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said his officials were in direct contact with the Chinese authorities regarding Kovrig who has been working with the non-profit organisation since February 2017.

“We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously, and we are of course providing consular assistance to the family,” Trudeau said.

The Chinese government did not comment on Kovrig or his possible whereabouts.

US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said that Washington was concerned about the reports on Kovrig.

“We urge China to end all forms of arbitrary detention and to respect the protections and freedoms of all individuals under China’s international human rights and consular commitments,” he said.

Kovrig’s social media accounts were active up till Sunday. According to the ICG’s website, he had been a diplomat before in Beijing and Hong Kong and at the UN in New York. He primarily wrote about China’s role in geopolitics, including the North Korea negotiations and relations with the US.

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Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told journalists in Ottawa that the government was “deeply concerned by the situation”.

The minister said there was currently no “explicit indication” of any link between Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and Kovrig’s reported detention.

Meng could face extradition to the US over the alleged violation of US sanctions on Iran, a move that has provoked fury in Chinese state media. She could be jailed for up to 30 years if found guilty.

–IANS

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