The trial of Canadian Michael Kovrig, who has been held in China for greater than two years on espionage costs, wrapped up in a closed Beijing courtroom on Monday with the decision to be introduced at an unspecified later date, based on state media.
China arrested Kovrig, a former diplomat, and fellow Canadian Michael Spavor in December 2018, quickly after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief monetary officer of Chinese tech firm Huawei, on a U.S. warrant.
Beijing insists the detentions usually are not linked to the arrest of Meng, who stays beneath home arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States.
State media outlet CCTV reported that Kovrig and his lawyer had been in courtroom and that the decision, just like the one for Spavor, who was tried on Friday, can be introduced at a later date.
“We’ve requested access to Michael Kovrig’s hearing repeatedly but that access is being denied” over nationwide safety causes, mentioned Jim Nickel, chargé d’affaires on the Embassy of Canada in China, outdoors the courtroom in Beijing.
“Now we see that the court process itself is not transparent. We’re very troubled by this.”
Nickel mentioned Canada can be registering its protest on the lack of entry with China’s international ministry.
WATCH | Canada’s chargé d’affaires says Michael Kovrig’s trial lacked transparency:
In a show of solidarity, 28 diplomats from 26 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Czech Republic, turned up outside the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court on Monday, which was marked by a heavy police presence.
“[U.S.] President [Joe] Biden and [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken have said that in dealing with the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the United States will treat these two individuals as if they were American citizens,” said Nickel.
More than 50 countries signed a declaration in February to condemn the arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes.
“We are here to show solidarity. Arbitrary detention is not the way,” another diplomat told Reuters, declining to be named as she was not authorized to speak on the record about the Canadians’ trials.
Some diplomats took off their face masks as they posed for a group photo outside the court, with each shouting out which country they represented to help reporters identify them.
The Canadian side had assembled a group of diplomats to “point fingers” and was “wantonly interfering in China’s judicial sovereignty,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Verdict to come in Spavor trial
On Friday, Spavor, a businessman, underwent a trial behind closed doors in a court in the northeastern city of Dandong. The court said it will set a date later for a verdict.
Canadian and other diplomats were not allowed to attend Spavor’s trial on what China said were national security grounds, a lack of transparency that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “completely unacceptable.”
Observers have said the likely convictions of the two men could ultimately facilitate a diplomatic agreement whereby they are released and sent back to Canada. Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99 per cent.
Earlier Sunday, Vina Nadjibulla, Kovrig’s wife, praised recent public comments from Trudeau, Biden and Blinken in support of “the two Michaels,” as they have become known around the world.
But Nadjibulla said in an interview on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live that she wants to see those words translated into actions that secure their release as soon as possible.
“Solidarity and support and words are good, and we must continue to say those things,” Nadjibulla told host Rosemary Barton.
“But what really will make a difference for Michael [Kovrig] and for Michael Spavor now are actions and concerted diplomatic effort on the part of all three governments to find a path forward.”
WATCH | Michael Kovrig’s wife calls for end of detention ahead of trial: