Canadian diplomat Jim Nickel (L), told reporters in Beijing that the trial had started for the second Canadian detained in China on espionage charges
The trial of Michael Kovrig, one of the two Canadians detained in China on spying charges, ended Monday with no verdict, as relations between Ottawa and Beijing sour.
The hearing for the former diplomat came days after the closed-door trial of another Canadian man, with both detained for over two years in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest on a US extradition warrant of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Ottawa is “deeply troubled” by the “unacceptable ordeal” faced by the pair, Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement calling for “an immediate end to their arbitrary detention”.
On Monday, police cordoned off an area outside the Beijing court as Canadian diplomats were denied entry and turned away.
The trial lasted one day before the court issued a statement saying that the proceeding had concluded and it would “choose a date to announce the verdict in accordance with the law”.
– Western democracies show solidarity –
Garneau thanked them for their show of solidarity and “echoing Canada’s message that these detentions are unacceptable”.
Canadian diplomats were also barred from attending Spavor’s trial in the Chinese city of Dandong on Friday, which lasted less than three hours and ended without a verdict.
China’s foreign ministry on Monday defended diplomats being blocked from entering the court, and criticised those gathering outside as “very unreasonable”.
– ‘A political case’ –
Meng, whose father is Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, has been fighting extradition to the United States on charges that she and the company violated US sanctions on Iran and other laws.
“China does not even try to make this look like a real trial, as evidence is not shared with the defence and the judge does not even take the time to review it,” he said ahead of the hearing.
China’s judicial system convicts most people who stand trial and the two Canadians face up to life in prison if found guilty of espionage and providing state secrets.
Beijing has insisted the detention of the two men is lawful, while calling Meng’s case “a purely political incident”.