Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday the Chinese formally charging two Canadians with spying is in retaliation for Canada arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Trudeau first linked the cases on Friday.
On Monday, the Chinese responded by warning Trudeau to “stop making irresponsible remarks.”
Far from taking the advice, Trudeau reiterated his assertion with strong words.
“Within the very first few days of the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, Chinese officials were highlighting a link between the detention a week before of Meng and the arrest of the two Michaels,” Trudeau said during his daily press conference, Monday.
“It has been obvious from the beginning that this was a political decision made by the Chinese government and we deplore it and have from the very beginning.”
Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver Dec. 1, 2018 at the request of the US under an extradition agreement with Canada. She is wanted in the US for fraud in connection with skirting American sanctions on Iran.
The Chinese were infuriated at the detention and just over a week later, Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China on suspicion of spying.
Meng was granted CAN$10 million bail and placed under house arrest.
More gasoline was poured on the fire in late May when a Canadian judge ruled that the next stage of the Meng extradition hearing could proceed.
Friday, the Chinese then formally charged the two Michaels with spying, clearing the way for a trial.
Trudeau reacted to the charges by urging the Chinese, who he said had “directly linked” all three cases, to end the “arbitrary detention” of Kovrig and Spavor.
That earned Beijing’s ire.
“China urges the relevant Canadian leader to earnestly respect the spirit of the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty and stop making irresponsible remarks,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.
He made the remarks despite China’s ambassador to Canada suggesting last month that the two Michaels would benefit if Meng was released.
Trudeau continues to insist that he will not exchange Meng for Kovrig and Spavor because Canada’s judicial system is independent and non-political.
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