Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China, are shown in these 2018 images taken from video. A Chinese government spokesman says it is not “convenient” to do discuss the charges against two Canadians detained in China despite an assertion by the country’s top prosecutor that they broke the law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

China says it’s not ‘convenient’ to discuss charges against imprisoned Canadians

The mystery deepen surrounding the arrests of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor

A Chinese government spokesman says it is not “convenient” to discuss the charges against two Canadians detained in China despite an assertion by the country’s top prosecutor that they broke the law.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang offered that explanation during a press conference in Beijing today, one of two cryptic Chinese government media events that deepened the mystery surrounding the arrests of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The two were detained last month in what is widely viewed as Chinese retaliation for Canada’s arrest of high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, by the RCMP in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

RELATED: Chinese foreign ministry tells U.S., EU to take Canada to task for Meng arrest

The U.S. wants Meng to face fraud charges in the U.S. and she has been released on bail and is living in an upscale Vancouver home in advance of her extradition hearing.

Little is known about Kovrig’s or Spavor’s circumstances, because they’ve each had only a single consular visit by Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, last month.

China’s chief prosecutor, Zhang Jun, told a Beijing briefing today “without a doubt” Kovrig and Spavor broke the country’s laws and are being investigated.

At a regular foreign-ministry briefing, Lu refused to elaborate on the nature of the charges.

“We have said here that these two Canadian citizens are under investigation in accordance with law for engaging in activities that undermine China’s national security,” said Lu. “It is not convenient to disclose more information now.”

Kovrig is a Canadian diplomat who was on a leave from Global Affairs Canada and was working in Beijing for the International Crisis Group, an organization that has written critically about China in the past.

Spavor is an entrepreneur who organized tours to North Korea.

RELATED: Aunt of Sarah McIver says she believes school officials in China made error

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reiterated Canada’s call for the release of the two men.

“We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians last month and call for their immediate release,” said Adam Austen.

The government has sought the support of key allies in pressuring China to release Kovrig and Spavor.

The U.S State Department has called for the release of the two Canadians, while Germany, France, the European Union and Australia have also issued supportive statements.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Smithers Christmas bird count results

Over 5,000 birds observed in annual count, including a couple local rarities.

Giesbrecht pleads not guilty in murder trial

Giesbrecht, 67, faces 1st-degree murder of Raymond Bishop, found May 2017 south of Francois Lake.

Bulkley Valley SD 54 superintendent leaving

Chris van der Mark has been superintendent with SD54 for eight years, and has hands full in Cariboo.

Council wants culture centre referendum

Library/gallery gets extra grant scrutiny for passing $10-million threshold.

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Most Read