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The Affair of the «two Michaels&raquo ; comes back to haunt Ottawa

Mandel Ngan archives Associated Press Michael Spavor (center left) blames his compatriot Michael Kovrig (center right) for being behind their incarceration in China. He is also demanding millions of dollars in compensation from the Canadian government. Above, the two Michaels photographed in the House of Commons, March 24, 2023.

The diplomatic crisis which poisoned relations between Beijing and Ottawa resurfaces: one of the two Canadians imprisoned for almost three years in China accuses its fellow detainee of being responsible for his arrest and demands millions from the Canadian government.

In December 2018, Canada arrested, at the request of Washington, the financial director of the telecoms giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou. And a few days later, Canadians Michael Spavor, a businessman, and ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig, were arrested in China, a measure then seen as retaliation.

Michael Spavor now blames his compatriot Michael Kovrig, to whom he had provided information on North Korea without knowing that it would be shared with Canada and its intelligence partners, for being behind their incarceration , according to information from the weekly Globe and Mail which cites anonymous sources.

More than two years after his return to Canada, Michael Spavor is therefore demanding millions of dollars from as compensation to the Canadian government.

“These allegations are baseless,” Michael Kovrig told AFP on Monday.

Maintaining the idea that one or the other of the two Michaels was involved in espionage activities “only perpetuates a false narrative” which would explain their detention according to China, declared for its part the Canadian government.< /p>

Michael Kovrig “was not a spy,” added the Foreign Ministry, which did not confirm whether negotiations with Mr. Spavor were underway.

Beijing, however, said Mr. Spavor's assertion “fully exposes Canada's hypocrisy,” according to a statement in Chinese sent to AFP on Monday by its embassy in Ottawa.

“We advise Canada to face the facts and think deeply about one's own mistakes, rather than blaming others and continuing to attack and discredit China and mislead the public,” the embassy added.

< p>Despite the release in 2021 of Meng Wanzhou and those called the “two Michaels”, tensions persist between the two countries, with Beijing criticizing Ottawa in particular for its alignment with Washington's Chinese policy and Canadian authorities suspecting China of 'interfere in its public affairs.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116