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US demands release of Canadian Spavor, consular access

US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken. Photo: State Department/Ronny Przysucha

Washington, Aug 11 (MNN) After Canadian citizen Michael Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in jail by a Chinese court on charges of spying, the US on Wednesday said it stood with the international community in calling the communist nation to immediately and unconditionally release Spavor and another Canadian and former diplomat Michael Kovrig.

“We continue to condemn these arbitrary detentions as well as the sentence imposed against Spavor on August 10. Spavor and Kovrig have not received the minimal procedural protections during their more than two-and-a-half-year arbitrary detention, and we stand with more than 60 countries who endorsed the recent Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, US State Secretary Antony J Blinken said.

“In my discussions with PRC officials, I have raised several cases of both US and Canadian citizens subject to arbitrary detentions and exit bans in China, and I strongly support the immediate and unconditional release of all those whom China has arbitrarily detained. The practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable. People should never be used as bargaining chips.”

He said that the US remains deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these legal proceedings and joins Canada in calling for full consular access to Spavor and Kovrig, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and China-Canada Consular Agreement.

“We call upon PRC authorities to grant the requests of Canadian officials and other foreign diplomats to attend their proceedings.”

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