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2 Detained Canadians Face Death Penalty, as China formally accuses them of spying

Chinese authorities have formally arrested two Canadians and are accusing them of crimes related to national security, likely further increasing tension between Ottawa and Beijing. 

Businessman Michael Spavor, who worked with North Korea, and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were picked up separately in December, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. She now faces extradition to the United States.

China has repeatedly demanded Meng be released, and has reacted angrily to extradition proceedings against her in a Canadian court.

Under Chinese law, officials can detain people for up to six months, meaning Beijing had until June 10 to act.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a daily news briefing in Beijing on Thursday morning that Kovrig is suspected of gathering state secrets for other countries and Spavor is accused of stealing and illegally providing state secrets, said Lu.

He didn’t say when the men will be formally charged, just that they had recently been arrested.

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