March 23, 2021


Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat, has spent the past two years in detention for espionage. On Monday, his trial began in Beijing for espionage. The beginning of this case has drawn a lot of criticism throughout the country.

Kovrig’s fellow Canadian diplomats and legal experts have stated their disapproval of the case. It’s believed that the Chinese are trying Kovrig to yield something in return from the Canadians, creating a hostage trial scenario. This strategy has been frequently used in China as well as countries in the Middle East.

Canadian diplomat The Trial

Kovrig’s trial is believed to be a ploy by the Chinese to control the Canadians. For this reason, his trial concluded on Monday without a verdict. China barred diplomats from 26 countries from attending the trial.

Kovrig’s fellow Canadian diplomat, Jim Nickel, spoke out about his anger towards the Chinese government. He said, “This is completely unacceptable, as is the lack of transparency in these court proceedings.” Nickel and other diplomats have been begging the Chinese to allow them to visit Kovrig, but all attempts have been denied.

The Chinese said that they would not allow courtroom access because there were national secrets that were going to be disclosed throughout the hearing.

Broken Agreements Between China and Canada

The Chinese and Canadians signed an agreement in 1999 that stated that fellow diplomats could attend trials that involve the two countries. The Chinese blatantly broke this agreement for Michael Kovrig.

Kovrig is not the only Canadian on trial in Canada for espionage. Michael Spavor, a Canadian businessman, is also on trial in China and has not been granted any court visitors. Kovrig and Spavor have not been able to have any contact in China during their prison time.

They have been contained in separate facilities in the northern portion of China. The Chinese are also breaking international law made under the Vienna Convention.

The Vienna Convention states that consular visits are guaranteed between foreign nations involved in the treaty. China has not seemed to care, and they are not budging in any capacity at this time.

Arrested Out of Spite?

Kovrig and Spavor were arrested following the Canadian imprisonment of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for the Chinese telecom firm Huawei. The United States requested this arrest because she allegedly committed crimes against the country.

It’s believed that Wanzhou committed bank fraud in the United States by ignoring domestic rules involving Iran.

The Chinese are making the Canadians pay for the arrest of Wanzhou. They have not allowed any visitors, and they also have not told the Canadians which lawyers are representing Kovrig and Spavor.

The Chinese court system is known for being very harsh. They have a conviction rate of 99%, and the maximum penalty for espionage is the death penalty. Kovrig and Spavor could likely face life in prison if Canada is unable to intervene.

If the Canadians can get involved, these two should face limited charges, but it’s going to cost the country in multiple ways.

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