(Reuters) – China will “soon” hold its first trial for Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who have been held in China since late 2018 and who were formally charged with espionage in June 2020, the Global Times reported, citing an unnamed source.
The two men were arrested in December 2018 shortly after Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on a U.S. warrant. She faces charges of misleading HSBC Holdings Plc about the Chinese tech giant’s business dealings with Iran, which is under U.S. sanctions.
Global Times, published by the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, did not say when the trial might take place or in which court. Hearings for the two Canadians had been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the paper said.
Canada and the United States have repeatedly demanded that China release Kovrig and Spavor, with Ottawa calling their arrest an act of “hostage diplomacy”.
Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations that the two Canadians’ arrest was linked to Meng’s arrest in Canada, however, and said the two men will be tried in accordance with Chinese law.
The report comes days ahead of the first high-level bilateral meeting between Washington and Beijing officials since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January.
(Reporting by Se Young Lee in Washington; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)