More than two years after being detained, Canadian businessman Michael Spavor has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Chinese court after being found guilty of spying and illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries. Spavor would also be deported, the court said, but it wasn’t made clear if that would be before or after he has served his prison sentence, according to CNN.
Spavor, a Beijing-based businessman who often traveled to North Korea, was apprehended alongside Canadian Michael Kovrig in December 2018 on espionage charges. These detentions happened less than two weeks after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver over allegations of the company violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Meng has been held under house arrest in Vancouver since 2018. Chinese officials have yet to disclose any evidence against Spavor or Kovrig, or details relating to their trials, which were held behind closed doors in March, says CNN.
According to the New York Times, the sentencing suggests that a court in Beijing will likely announce a similar guilty judgment soon in the other spying case against Korvig. Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton said that he had spoken to Spavor after the verdict was delivered and the Canadian businessman had asked him to deliver three messages.
“One, thank you for all your support, it means a lot to me. Two, I am in good spirits, and three, I want to get home,” according to CNN.