The Chinese government is charging the two Canadians it detained last year with endangering national security. 

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, the allegations against Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor include “covertly gathering state secrets and intelligence for foreign forces” and “stealing and illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces.”

The pair was arrested on December 10, 2018, in retaliation to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Meng is currently facing extradition to the U.S. for allegedly breaking sanctions on Iran and various fraud charges. 

In response, Global Affairs Canada released a statement yesterday acknowledging the one year mark since they were “arbitrarily detained,” wrote the statement. 

“These two Canadians are and will remain our absolute priority. We will continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release and to stand up for them as a government and as Canadians,” wrote the statement. 

While detained, the pair have been denied access to their families and legal representation. Chinese officials have only allowed them approximately a dozen 30-minute consular visits in the past year. Kovrig’s glasses were also allegedly confiscated earlier this year for no apparent reason and the two are subject to repeat interrogations.

The Chinese government apparently took issue with the Global Affairs statement claiming that there is no such thing as “arbitrary detainment” in China and the Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne’s remarks were “irresponsible.” 

“The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition, and has also made solemn representations to the Canadian side,” read a statement by the Chinese Embassy who also claimed that the pair’s rights are being respected. 

While the two Canadians have been imprisoned in China, Meng has been under house arrest at one of her two Vancouver-area mansions. 

In a letter released one year after her arrest, Meng complained about the “fear and pain” she has had to endure and characterized the period as “the worst days of my life.” She goes on to say that while detained she’s spent the time reading books “from cover to cover” and completing oil paintings. 

Meng’s extradition hearings are expected to begin on January 20, 2020. 

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