Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks at a press conference in Beijing, on Nov 29, 2023. (Photo/fmprc.gov.cn)
China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday pushed back against Canada's hyping of the so-called "arbitrary detention "of two Canadian spies after Canada's national news outlet The Globe and Mail reported that Michael Spavor blamed his fellow prisoner Michael Kovrig for the nearly three-year detention in China.
The Globe and Mail cited two sources as saying that Spavor is seeking a multimillion-dollar settlement from Ottawa with the allegation that he was detained in 2018 because he unwittingly provided intelligence on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to Kovrig, which was later shared with Canada and its Five Eyes spy-service partners.
Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the two Canadians were suspected of committing crimes endangering China's national security and their case was handled by the Chinese judicial authorities in accordance with the law.
"Recent reports once again prove that Ottawa's so-called accusation of 'arbitrary detention' by China is purely a thief crying 'stop thief' by distorting facts," Wang said.
"Stories made up by the Canadian side have been debunked by facts over time. This is the result of Canada's own doing," he added.
"We urge the Canadian side to respect facts, deeply reflect upon its mistakes and stop misleading public opinion, and smearing China," Wang said.
China formally arrested Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, and Spavor, a Canadian businessman based in China, on suspicion of endangering national security in 2018.
In August 2021, Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison and had 50,000 yuan ($7,700) of his personal property confiscated by the Dandong Intermediate People's Court in Liaoning province after being found guilty of foreign espionage and the illegal provision of State secrets.
Spavor and Kovrig were allowed to return to Canada after being released on bail for health reasons in September 2021.