China on Thursday confirmed it has detained two Canadian men, raising the stakes in a three-way worldwide dispute over the case of a Chinese telecoms executive facing possible extradition from Canada to the United States.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang says their cases are being handled separately by local bureaus of the national intelligence agency in Beijing, where Kovrig was picked up, and the northeastern city of Dandong, where Spavor lived.
"Canada needs to unite around this issue and send a clear message to the Chinese government that it is completely unacceptable that a Canadian citizen on Chinese soil is being used in this way", Scheer said.
In apparent retaliation, China has detained a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, since Monday.
Spavor, who organizes business, culture and tourism trips to North Korea, is best known for organizing NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman's visit to Pyongyang. Other photos show him with both Kim Jong Un and National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman.
Kovrig's detention follows the arrest, at Washington's request, of Meng Wangzhou, a top executive with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
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Canada's ambassador met in Beijing Friday with a detained former diplomat for the first time since he was arrested in China amid sharpening East-West tensions over trade and other issues.
Lu said that the Canadian embassy had been notified that the two men were being held under "compulsory measures" and that their "legitimate rights and interests" were being upheld.
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Many in the USA and Canada suspect it means "taken hostage until charges are dropped against Meng Wanzhou". Once it does, if a Canadian judge rules in favor of the request, Canada's justice minister must decide whether to extradite Meng to the United States.
Spavor runs tours of North Korea along with sports, business and other exchanges through his company, Paektu Cultural Exchange.
Canadian foreign ministry spokesman Guillaume Bérubé confirmed that Mr Spavor had contacted it earlier in the week because "he was being asked questions by Chinese authorities".
The United States has been pressuring Canada for several months to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G cellular networks over security concerns. "We are working with our traditional partners-they are Ericsson and Nokia".
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The Americans accuse Meng of committing bank fraud in connection with an alleged attempt to circumvent American sanctions against Iran.
ICG has said that it has not received any information about Kovrig since his arrest.
In the days since his arrest, the Foreign Ministry has said Kovrig, now a senior adviser with the International Crisis Group, may have also broken China's NGO law if he was carrying out work for the group while in the country. It said his case had been raised directly with Chinese officials.
Meng faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
"The world is a small place and some forget that when they take certain actions, their own people may get in trouble", said Weibo user Liu Meng.
If there's something Canadians of all political stripes can agree on, it's that their fellow citizens should not be unjustly detained on foreign soil, says Canada's leader of the official Opposition.
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