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Canadian pair formally charged with espionage

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-20 09:46

Chinese authorities said on Friday that two Canadians-Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor-have been formally charged with spying in China.

After a review, the No 2 branch of the Beijing People's Procuratorate formally charged former diplomat Kovrig with the crime of prying into State secrets and intelligence gathering for overseas entities on Friday.

The same day, prosecutors in Dandong, Liaoning province, formally charged businessman Spavor on charges of stealing and illegally providing State secrets to overseas entities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded to the two cases at a regular news conference on Friday. He cited the charges against the Canadians, saying that Kovrig and Spavor should be held criminally liable because their behavior had clearly and seriously breached Article 111 of the Chinese Criminal Law.

Kovrig's case will be taken to the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court, while Spavor's case will be heard at the Dandong Intermediate People's Court, Zhao said.

The article stipulates that those offering or organizing others to steal, purchase or illegally provide State secrets or intelligence to overseas entities will face a sentence ranging from five to 10 years in prison.

If the situation is "extremely serious", defendants may be sentenced to 10 years or more, or even life imprisonment, said the article.

Both Canadians were detained in December 2018 by the Chinese government on "suspicion of engaging in activities that endanger national security". In May last year, the ministry confirmed that the two Canadians had been formally arrested.

The ministry responded earlier that Chinese authorities have consistently handled the two cases in accordance with Chinese laws.

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