Published: Fri, January 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Canada says 13 citizens detained in China since Huawei CFO arrest

Canada says 13 citizens detained in China since Huawei CFO arrest

The foreign ministry said earlier last month that Kovrig and Spavor are "suspected of engaging in activities endangering national security", without specifying whether their cases were linked.

Backed by the United States and several European countries, Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated called for the immediate release of Kovrig and Spavor, whose arrests Ottawa has termed arbitrary.

China has been outspoken about Meng's arrest, which was described as "basically kidnapping" in state media.

According to a government source, the number of Canadians detained in China has been relatively stable in recent years.

A police officer gestures at the photographer as security staff stand guard outside the Canadian embassy in Beijing December 20, 2018.

Beijing is following the rule of law and protecting the rights of 13 Canadians reported to have been held by China, a government official said on Friday amid heightened tensions between China and Canada after the arrest of a senior Huawei executive.

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The US and other allies have also called on China to release the pair, and those who know the men reject allegations against them.

Among these is McIvor, who was teaching English in China.

"We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians last month", said Adam Austen, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in a statement earlier Thursday.

"These two Canadian citizens in China violated our country's laws and regulations, and are now undergoing investigation according to procedure", said Zhang Jun, China's prosecutor general. "It's sending a chill through that broad community - diplomats, journalists, academics, [non-governmental organization] workers and business people - who try understand and interpret China". Previous reports had just three Canadians publicly known to have been detained in China since the December 1 arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the U.S. She has since been released on bail while facing extradition to the US.

U.S. prosecutors have accused her of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating sanctions.

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