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Canada gets consular access to second man detained in China

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Canadian diplomats gained consular access on Sunday to the second of two men detained by China over the past week, Canada’s foreign ministry said in a statement that gave few details, as China said it was ensuring their rights were protected.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, met Michael Spavor, the Canadian ministry said. Spavor and Michael Kovrig were both picked up after Canada arrested a senior Chinese executive on a U.S. extradition request.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who said on Friday the detentions were unacceptable – told CTV his government was taking the situation very seriously.

“We have engaged with the Chinese officials to determine what exactly conditions are they being detained under? Why are they being detained?” he said in an interview aired on Sunday. McCallum met Kovrig for the first time in Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that China should free the two men. China says they are both suspected of engaging in activities that endangered national security, but has given no details.

Speaking in Beijing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China and Canada had “smooth” consular communication on the cases of the two Canadians and confirmed China had arranged consular access for both of them.

“At the same time, the lawful rights of these two Canadians have been guaranteed,” Hua told a daily news briefing, without elaborating on where they are being held, under what exact charges and under what conditions.

Spavor, a businessman, and Kovrig, a former diplomat now working for a think-tank, were detained after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.

U.S. prosecutors accuse Meng of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, has said she is innocent.

China has demanded Canada free Meng and threatened unspecified consequences if it does not.

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