Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that ““China’s conviction and sentencing of Michael Spavor is absolutely unacceptable and unjust”.

A Chinese court has sentenced Canadian businessman Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage, more than two years after he was first detained.

Spavor, a Beijing-based businessman who regularly traveled to North Korea, was sentenced after being found guilty of spying and illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries, the Dandong Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement Wednesday.

The court said Spavor would also be deported. However it did not specify whether the deportation would be before or after he served his prison sentence.

“The verdict for Mr. Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law,” Trudeau said in a media statement. “For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible.”

Spavor and Kovrig were both detained in December 2018 on espionage charges following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, over allegations the company violated United States sanctions on Iran. Meng, whose extradition hearing is now in its final stages, has been held under house arrest in Vancouver since 2018.

Chinese officials have not disclosed any evidence against Spavor or Kovrig, or information relating to their trials, which were held behind closed doors in March.

 

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