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China formally arrests Canadian ex-diplomat, businessman: report

AFP  |  Beijing 

has formally arrested two Canadians who have been detained for months on national security grounds, a Canadian newspaper reported on Thursday, in a case that has inflamed tensions between and

A source told The that neither Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, nor Michael Spavor, a China-based who organised trips to North Korea, have been formally charged.

"strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest as we condemned their arbitrary detention on December 10," the Canadian foreign ministry said in a statement to the newspaper.

Though no link has been officially made, the detention of Spavor and Kovrig is thought to be in retaliation for Canada's December 1 detention on a US extradition request for Meng Wanzhou, a top of giant who is accused of violating sanctions.

The men were first accused of activities that "endanger China's security" - a phrase often used by when alleging espionage.

later announced it suspected Kovrig of spying and stealing state secrets and alleged that Spavor had provided him with intelligence.

Two other Canadians convicted of drug trafficking, meanwhile, have been sentenced to death. And recently blocked Canadian shipments of canola and pork worth billions of dollars.

Meng - who is currently fighting extradition to the US - is allowed to live in her Vancouver mansion, although her mobility is limited.

Meanwhile, a group of Canadian parliamentarians had earlier complained to Chinese officials that Kovrig and Spavor have been denied access to lawyers, and remain in "completely unacceptable" detention conditions.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 13:56 IST