The fate of the two Canadian Michaels

Foreign Affairs

The fate of the two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, charged by China with spying, is still uncertain, exactly two years after they were detained.

Louis Huang holds a placard ccalling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig outside a court hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouve
A supporter holds a placard calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig outside a court hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟 at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Canada, in 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

At the daily press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, the spokesperson said that two Canadians who were detained exactly two years ago on charges of spying had been already tried in court, “prompting surprise from Canadian officials,” according to the Guardian.  

  • However, other Chinese officials later “confirmed that the confusion was caused by an inaccurate characterization of the process made by the Chinese MFA spokesperson,” and the official transcript did not contain the original remarks.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested on December 10, 2018, days after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei executive Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟, in an apparent act of hostage diplomacy.

  • There has been little information made public on the two Michaels, but today, the Globe and Mail published documents and information that show how the detained Canadians “are seeking hope and comfort,” and apparently not in extreme mental distress despite harsh conditions.

Will the U.S. and China exchange Meng Wanzhou for the two Michaels? That idea has been circulating in media and political sources since last week.

  • However, says the Guardian, former Canadian diplomats “have expressed concern that a deal could be made without the release of the two Michaels as a condition.”
  • The Chinese Foreign Ministry continues to deny a connection, and today reasserted its line that the “Meng Wanzhou incident is a political one in and out while the two Canadian citizens were arrested, prosecuted and will be tried for suspected crimes endangering China’s national security.”

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