In a statement emailed to Global News on Sunday, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) confirmed Canadian officials will not be in attendance at the trial set to begin on Monday.
Trudeau refuses to trade Meng for Spavor, Kovrig
“According to the terms of our bilateral consular agreement, China is obligated to provide access to Canadian consular officials to the trials of Canadian citizens,” the statement read.
Global Affairs Canada said the agency remains “deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these proceedings.”
“Canada is grateful to all who have joined in expressing concerns about China’s actions,” GAC said.
In a previous interview with Global News, Kovrig’s wife, Vina Nadjibulla said she will not travel to China for the trial both due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and because it will not be an open trial.
“If anything, this underscores the urgency of the issue and that we must do everything possible to bring them home,” she said.
“We’re running out of time. The process in China is moving ahead and this is incredibly, incredibly urgent at this stage.”
Kovrig and another Canadian man, Michael Spavor were arrested in China in 2018 on espionage charges, shortly after Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou was detained by authorities in British Columbia on an extradition charge from the United States. The actions taken against the two Michaels are widely viewed as retaliation.
Both Huawei and Meng are facing dozens of charges related to allegations of corporate espionage and for breaching sanctions in Iran.
Meng is currently living in Vancouver while her hearing at a B.C. court continues.
Canadian officials and the country’s closest allies have denounced the charges against Kovrig and Spavor, calling them “arbitrary.”
The federal government has repeatedly called on China to release the men.
Trudeau condemns detention, lack of transparency in Micheal Spavor trial
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the detention of the two men is “completely unacceptable.”
“As is the lack of transparency around these court proceedings, our top priority remains securing their release (and) we will continue to work tirelessly to bring them home as soon as possible,” he said.
Trudeau said the government will continue to be in “close contact” with the families of the two men “during this difficult time.”
Spavor’s trial last week ended without a verdict.
— More to come.
With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun
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