China rebuts Canadian criticism over detention of two men

SPEAKING OUT: People hold signs calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig during an extradition hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 6, 2019. Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - China lashed out at Canada on Saturday over criticism about Chinese prosecution of two Canadians, saying the matter is based on evidence and urging Ottawa to cease “megaphone diplomacy.”

Chinese prosecutors this month charged Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, for suspected espionage. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Beijing to cease the “arbitrary detention,” and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called for their release.

In a website post, a representative of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa criticized recent “irresponsible remarks” by Canadian leaders.

“The facts are clear and evidence solid and sufficient. The accusation of so-called ‘arbitrarily’ detaining Canadian citizens is totally groundless,” the post said.

Chinese authorities arrested the men in late 2018, soon after Canadian police detained Huawei Technologies Co’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. warrant.

The embassy spokesperson said Meng’s arrest is the true arbitrary detention, and repeated Beijing’s call for her release.

“Stop making irresponsible remarks on cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and exerting pressure on China through megaphone diplomacy.”

Spokespersons for Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland could not immediately be reached.

Kovrig’s wife asked this week that the Canadian justice minister consider intervening in the Chinese executive’s extradition case to try and free the two Canadians.

Trudeau has said exchanging Meng for the two men would weaken Canada’s values and justice system.

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