China may have detained second citizen, says Canada foreign minister

  • Michael Kovrig, who works for thinktank, being held in Beijing
  • Move follows arrest of Chinese Huawei executive in Canada

The Guardian
Date: 13 Dec 2018
By: Leyland Cecco in Toronto and agencies Beijing

A second Canadian citizen may have been held by Chinese officials following the detention of

Michael Kovrig works for the International Crisis Group (ICG). Canada’s former ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques observed: ‘In China there are no coincidences.’ Photograph: Julie David de Lossy/AFP/Getty Images

former diplomat Michael Kovrig, according to Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.

The Globe and Mail has named the individual as Michael Spavor. He lives in China and runs the Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He was largely responsible for facilitating one of Dennis Rodman’s trips to North Korea, in which the famous former NBA player met with Kim Jong-un.

After Kovrig was detained on Monday, another citizen contacted officials, saying he had been questioned by Chinese authorities.

“We have not been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with the Chinese authorities. We are in touch with his family.”

Spavor and Kovrig are said to know each other, The Globe and Mail reported.

Posts on Spavor’s social media showed friends beginning to question his whereabouts, after he failed to show up to a planned visit to Seoul on Monday, the same day Kovrig is believed to have detained by security officials in Beijing. He was scheduled to be in the city, for conferences and social events, until at least Friday.

Canadian officials have been wary of potential retaliation by the Chinese government after the arrest last week of Chinese telecoms executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.