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US think-tank leaders call on China to release Canadian colleague

AFP  |  Beijing 

Prominent leaders of American think-tanks and leading academics Monday called on to immediately release a former Canadian diplomat, warning his arrest has a "chilling effect" on co-operation with

Former and fellow Canadian were arrested in on December 10 in a move widely seen as retaliation for Canada's arrest days before of on behalf of the US.

Canada, the US and several other countries, have criticised Beijing's handling of the cases and repeatedly called for the release of the two Canadians.

"Michael's arrest has a on all those who are committed to advance constructive U.S.-relations," said the joint statement from US foreign policy experts, academics and thought leaders.

"We urge China to release Michael so that he can return to his family," the 15 signatories said.

His detention has thrown into the middle of a geopolitical spat between and Beijing, with the accusing China of stealing and slapping tariffs on roughly half of the Chinese goods flowing into the country.

"At this moment of testing for the bilateral relationship -- defined by growing differences and suspicions between our governments -- we believe these efforts and the partnerships we've built with counterparts in China over many years are more important than ever," the statement said.

Signatories include Orville Schell of the Asia Society, and the heads of right- and left-leaning think-tanks such as the and the

Based out of Hong Kong, Kovrig had taken leave from his diplomatic posting to work for the when he was arrested. ICG's thanked the signatories for their support and coming together on the issue.

"Many members of that community wish to constructively engage with China," said Malley.

"Michael's arbitrary detention can only scare them away," he said.

China appears to have linked Kovrig's fate with that of Meng, who is wanted in the US on fraud charges linked to violations of sanctions.

Last week, days after launched an extradition process against Meng, China announced it suspected Kovrig of spying and stealing state secrets and alleged fellow Canadian Spavor had provided him intelligence.

Spying charges could expose them to tough prison sentences.

Both men have been denied access to lawyers and allowed only monthly consular visits.

Meng is free on bail in as the extradition process continues.

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

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 19:20 IST