The Chinese Embassy in Canada said on Monday that Canadian side hyping up of so-called “arbitrary detention” of “two Michaels” is purely a case of a thief crying stop thief and it fully exposed Canada’s hypocrisy, after the Canadian media the Globe and Mail revealed that one of the two Canadians blamed his fellow inmate for sharing intelligence on North Korea with Canada and allied spy services.
One of the two Canadians jailed by China for nearly three years in a case that was at the heart of a diplomatic crisis is seeking a multimillion-dollar settlement from Ottawa, Canadian media reported, citing two sources. Michael Spavor alleged that he was detained because he unwittingly provided intelligence on North Korea to Canada and allied spy services.
He alleges that the deception was conducted by fellow Canadian prisoner Michael Kovrig, and it was intelligence work by the latter that led to both men’s incarceration by Chinese authorities, according to the Globe and Mail.
Two Canadians confessed their guilt for crimes they committed in China and were released on bail for medical reasons before they departed China by plane to Canada on September 24, 2021.
Spavor, who was sentenced in August, 2021 to 11 years in prison for espionage and illegal provision of China’s state secrets to foreign entities, was found to have taken photos and videos of Chinese military equipment on multiple occasions and illegally provided some of those photos to people outside China. He also had personal property of 50,000 yuan ($7,700) confiscated.
The photos and videos Spavor took during his time in China have been identified as second-tier state secrets.
Spavor was a key informant for Kovrig and provided him with information over a long period. Sources told the Global Times that from 2017 to 2018, Kovrig entered China using the forged identity of a businessman and had collected a large amount of information on China’s national security through his contacts in Beijing, Shanghai and Jilin in Northeast China.
However, Canada had repeatedly denied that the two Canadians were involved in espionage, insisting that the “arbitrary detention” of the two Canadians was in retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a senior Huawei executive, in Canada in 2018.
Confidential negotiations are taking place between Toronto lawyer John K. Phillips, who is representing Spavor, and Patrick Hill, executive director and senior counsel at the federal Department of Justice and Global Affairs Canada, the Globe and Mail reported, citing unnamed sources.
Phillips is alleging that his client was arrested by China because of information that he shared with Kovrig. That information, he alleges, was later passed on, unbeknownst to Spavor, to the Canadian government and its Five Eyes spy-service partners in the course of Kovrig’s duties as a diplomat with the Foreign Affairs department’s Global Security Reporting Program, according to the media report.
He is also alleging, the sources say, that a senior diplomat in Beijing had conversations with Kovrig about his relationship with Spavor after Kovrig took a leave of absence from Global Affairs Canada in 2017 to join the International Crisis Group (ICG), an independent, non-governmental global think tank.
The spy row between the two Canadians has triggered a wide ranging discussions, as observers believed that it not only put the Canadian government in an awkward position but is also a slap in the face for its accusation against China on so-called arbitrary detention.
A third highly placed source told The Globe that Kovrig was considered an intelligence asset, as a diplomatic officer at the Global Security Reporting Program (GSRP) within the Canadian embassy in Beijing, and later when based in Hong Kong at International Crisis Group.
The source said Kovrig was not an employee of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service but that information he gathered in China was viewed as valuable by the spy agency.
However, a Canadian department spokesperson told the Canadian media that GSRPs operates openly and meet with a broad range of contacts on a voluntary basis. The program does not recruit or run human sources, and it does not pay for information.
The information exposed by Canadian media once again demonstrates that China’s legal actions against two Michaels were legitimate, as they indeed engaged in activities inconsistent with their stated identities, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.
Meanwhile, Canada’s accusations against China are filled with falsehoods, reversing right and wrong, in an attempt to spread misinformation about China in the international community and to conceal its own inappropriate actions, Li said.
Canada’s rebuttal overestimates its own ability to spread rumors, the expert said. From reports of Canadian media, we have essentially come to learn that Canadian personnel, under the guise of “diplomats,” have been involved in activities related to intelligence work, he said.
Even after so much information has been revealed, Canada remains obstinately unenlightened, failing to honestly disclose the truth of the matter to the public. Instead, Canada continues to obscure the facts and even falsely accuse China, reflecting Canada’s lack of sincerity in dealing with China-related affairs and its attempt to tarnish China’s image in the international community, Li said.
“We advise Canada to face up to the facts and reflect deeply on its own mistakes, rather than continue to attack and discredit China and mislead the public,” a spokesperson from the Chinese embassy in Canada said.