Canada has made a formal request for the release of two Canadians imprisoned by China, in an effort to retaliate for the detention of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, Newsweek reported.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move was “arbitrary”, and demanded the detained diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor be immediately released.
“We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release,” Freeland said. “We also believe this is not only a Canadian issue,” she said during a conference call on Saturday, according to The New York Times. “It is an issue that concerns our allies.”
In a statement emailed to Newsweek, ICG’s President and CEO, Rob Malley, denied Kovrig was involved in any wrongdoing. “Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security. He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”
Although no proven links have been established between their arrests and Meng’s, a Chinese official penned an op-ed last week which was widely interpreted as an admission.
“Those who accuse China of detaining some person in retaliation for the arrest of Ms. Meng should first reflect on the actions of the Canadian side,” Chinese ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, wrote in a Globe and Mail article titled “On China, Has Canada Lost Its Sense of Justice?”