A Canadian named Michael Kovrug is imprisoned in Beijing for two years, almost completely cut off from the outside world. When diplomats were allowed to contact him by video in October, he was surprised to hear that an epidemic had affected the world. Diplomats told his wife that
A second Canadian, Michael Spyware, is imprisoned in the city of Dandong on the China-North Korean border. The world knows even less about Kovir about her situation. His relatives have chosen not to talk to the press.
Meanwhile, a Chinese woman named Meng Wenzhou is under house arrest in Vancouver, Canada. She has to wear an ankle cuff, but she can go shopping and attend concerts, and has also attended painting courses. When he appears in court every few weeks, the Compatriots perform for him.
Former diplomatic covariate, entrepreneur Spowers and businesswomen Meng have ties: Meng was arrested on December 1, 2018 at Vancouver Airport, from where he intended to travel to Mexico. The reason was an arrest warrant from the US judiciary: a federal court in New York accused Iran of curtailing trade. Ms. Meng is the chief financial officer of network equipment company Huawei and the daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei.
Ten days after Ms. Meng, exactly two years before this Thursday, both Canadians were arrested in China. At the time, Kovrag was in Beijing for the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spoyer ran an agency that conducted business trips from China to North Korea.
As the relationship is international and behind the scenes, even for some Chinese observers – Beijing refuses to take two Canadian hostages to free Meng.
In June, 18 months after his arrest, Kovrag was charged with espionage and disclosed espionage charges and state secrets. Beijing did not provide any further details or evidence. Punishment up to life imprisonment in China. If Meng is extradited to the USA, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
Trudeau talks to Biden about the complicated case
In fact, the case of “two michaels”, as they are called in Canada, will probably be decided not by the judiciary but by politics. A week after his election victory, President-Elect Joe Biden received a call from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He congratulated Biden and asked about the fate of both Canadians. “I am confident that the new administration will be a good partner for Canada,” he said later. “We want to convince China that the approach they are taking is not working.”
It is unclear whether this was due to Biden’s advocacy, but according to a Wall Street Journal report, the case is now agitated. Meng Wenzhou’s lawyers have contacted the US judiciary. A “deferred criminal prosecution agreement” is being discussed that could allow Meng to return to China – if he was “cooperative” and admitted part of the crime. Until now Meng has refused to make such partial admissions; He was not guilty of anything.
So Michael Koverig and Michael Spower face several months of imprisonment. In November, the Canadian ambassador to Beijing was allowed to speak to two detainees at their detention centers for the first time since January – not in person, but again via video link. “You are flexible,” the ambassador reported to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday. “If you can see them you will be very impressed.”
Mandela as a prison reading
According to Canadian media reports, the two detainees are allowed to read the letters of their relatives, but they are not kept. At the beginning of his detention, he was often questioned for hours; The light in his cell was around the clock. Meanwhile, according to his wife, Kovrug keeps himself fit with training and reads books such as Nelson Mandela’s “The Long Road to Freedom”.
Western diplomats are following the case with increasing concern. If Ms. Meng had not traveled through Canada but with another country that has an extradition treaty with the United States, her citizens may be in Chinese custody today. And after two years of imprisonment for two Michaels, who can guarantee that Beijing will not use another diplomatic crisis to arrest foreigners in China?