Chinese allow phone call from detained Canadian Michael Kovrig to sick father

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Embassy does not provide further details on the condition of Kovrig’s father and does not say if his medical condition has anything to do with the current global pandemic

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OTTAWA – Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Embassy in Canada has said Michael Kovrig has been allowed to have a phone conversation with his father, who is very ill.

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The embassy said in a statement that it authorized this on humanitarian grounds, and it also says Kovrig and his fellow inmate Michael Spavor are receiving better food to boost their immunity to the novel coronavirus, which originated in China.

“Chinese judicial authorities have ensured that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor receive adequate humanitarian treatment like other similar suspects,” the statement said.

“Both are physically healthy and mentally stable. Their legitimate rights are fully protected.
Since the start of the epidemic, the Chinese government has “done its best to address the reasonable concerns” of the detainees.

“The authorities provided better food to all detainees, including Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, to help strengthen their immunity,” the statement said.

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“Second, given that the relevant detention centers have been completely closed due to the epidemic, to ensure their contacts with Canadian consular agencies in China, the frequency of transfer of letters and parcels to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor has been increased as an interim arrangement. “

As the affected detention centers have been completely closed due to the outbreak, the frequency of transferring letters and packages to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor has been increased.

The embassy is not providing further details on the condition of Kovrig’s father or whether his state of health has anything to do with the current global pandemic.

“The Chinese authorities, for humanitarian reasons, allowed Michael Kovrig to have a telephone conversation with his father as a special arrangement under the law, when they learned that Michael Kovrig’s father is very ill.” , indicates the press release. “The aforementioned measures have fully demonstrated China’s goodwill, and Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have expressed their gratitude.”

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But Friday’s Chinese statement also maintains Beijing’s firm stance since the events of December 2018, which plunged China-Canada relations to a new low. Kovrig, a diplomat on leave who worked with the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been jailed in China since December 2018. Their detention is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of the Chinese top scion. Meng Wanzhou technology nine days earlier.

  1. Experts say Ottawa shouldn't expect Beijing to do it a favor and release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in exchange for medical cooperation on the coronavirus.  Kovrig (left) and Spavor are shown in this 2018 footage from a video.  THE CANADIAN PRESS / AP

    ‘We don’t play games when people are sick’: China won’t release ‘two Michaels’ despite coronavirus help: experts

  2. This file photo taken on March 6, 2019 shows Louis Huang of Vancouver Freedom and Democracy for China holding photos of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who are detained by China, in the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. , as chief financial officer of Huawei Meng Wanzhou appears in court.

    Chinese Embassy attacks “some politicians” over the release of Canadians Spavor and Kovrig

  3. Turnisa Matsedik-Qira of the Vancouver Uyghur Association protests against China's treatment of Uyghurs while holding a photo of detained Canadians Michael Spavor (left) and Michael Kovrig in court for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver on May 8, 2019.

    One year after arrests in China, Canadians Spavor and Kovrig stand trial without a lawyer

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Friday’s statement says Kovrig and Spavor are “suspected” of endangering China’s national security and their cases are being handled legally as the Canadian government cannot “explain which law of Canada Ms. Meng Wanzhou violated” .

“For some time now, a few people in Canada have been pushing the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on to the fore and comparing them to the case of an innocent Chinese citizen who has been arbitrarily detained by Canada,” the embassy said.

The update represents a window into the secret detention of the two Canadians; neither government has provided many details on the conditions under which the “two Michaels” are kept. Each has been allowed regular consular visits about once a month, but so far neither has been allowed contact with family or access to a lawyer.

Dominic Barton, Canada’s Ambassador to China, recently said little was said about the two men to respect their families’ wishes.

The Canadian government maintains that the “two Michaels” are arbitrarily detained.
Meng was arrested by the RCMP on an extradition request from the United States

Meng is out on bail and lives in a luxury home in Vancouver as his extradition hearing is still in a BC court.

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