Canada says China has granted consular access to second detainee

December 17, 2018 - 7:36 AM
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A man holds a sign calling for China to release Wang Bingzhang and former Canadian diplomat Kovrig, who was arrested in China on Tuesday, outside the B.C. Supreme Court bail hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou
FILE PHOTO: A man holds a sign calling for China to release Wang Bingzhang and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was arrested in China on Tuesday, at the B.C. Supreme Court bail hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada December 11, 2018. (REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo)

OTTAWA — Canadian diplomats received consular access on Sunday to the second of two men detained by China over the past week, Canada’s foreign ministry said in a statement that gave few details.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, met Michael Spavor, the statement said. Spavor and Michael Kovrig were both picked up after Canada arrested a senior Chinese executive on a U.S. extradition request.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who said on Friday the detentions were unacceptable – told CTV his government was taking the situation very seriously.

“We have engaged with the Chinese officials to determine what exactly conditions are they being detained under? Why are they being detained?” he said in an interview aired on Sunday. McCallum met Kovrig for the first time in Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that China should free the two men.

Spavor, a businessman, and Kovrig, a former diplomat, were detained after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.

U.S. prosecutors accuse Meng of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei‘s founder, has said she is innocent.

Trudeau told CTV that Canada would continue trying to build up trading ties with China.

“We need to do so in a way that is true to our values and stands up for Canadians’ interests, and getting that balance right is complex. (It) has been made more difficult by recent trends,” he said. —Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney