In a statement on the Spavor decision, Trudeau strongly criticised China’s justice system.
“The verdict for Mr Spavor comes after more than 2½ years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law,” he said.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a statement on Twitter supporting Canada over the two cases.
“Australia stands with Canada in response to the arbitrary detention of Michael Spavor & the upholding of the death penalty for Robert Schellenberg in China. We call for due process & transparency & oppose the death penalty in all circumstances,” it said.
Spavor was detained along with Michael Kovrig – a Hong Kong-based analyst at the International Crisis Group and former Canadian diplomat – days after Meng’s arrest and has been jailed ever since. The Canadian side hasn’t received any indication on the timing of Kovrig’s verdict, according to Barton.
Spavor has the right to appeal the judgment. But Chinese courts rarely overturn criminal judgments, and his fate could rest on deal-making among Beijing, Ottawa and Washington at a time when Beijing’s relations with Western powers are particularly tense.
The sentence will fuel anger in Canada, where public attitudes toward the Chinese government have hardened over the prosecution of the two Canadians. In particular, many critics have contrasted the harsh conditions the Canadians have faced with Meng’s luxurious lifestyle.
The “Canadian Michaels” have been held in secret jails for more than two years, cut off from their families and with limited legal and consular access. The two were tried in short and opaque trials in March. Meng, meanwhile, has been out on a bail of $10 million Canadian dollars ($10 million) in a seven-room mansion in a rarefied Vancouver neighbourhood, where she has had private painting lessons and massages. She wears a GPS tracker on her left ankle and has been able to move around Vancouver.
Chinese officials have accused Canada of entrapping Meng and have denied that Spavor and Kovrig are being kept as hostages to pressure Ottawa to let Meng return to China.
“This is nothing short of a political incident in which Canada played a very disgraceful role as an accomplice,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said in March about Meng’s case. “We urge the Canadian side to immediately release Ms Meng Wanzhou.”
But Trudeau has said that Spavor and Kovrig were arrested on “trumped-up charges” as “an attempt to try and pressure us to release the executive,” and he has defended Meng’s detention as simply an application of the rule of law and Canadian extradition treaty obligations with the United States.
People convicted of serious violations of the section of law cited by Chinese authorities face between 10 years and life in prison.
Bloomberg, The New York Times