Allegations by Michael Spavor I have never been involved

Allegations by Michael Spavor | “I have never been involved in espionage activities,” replies Kovrig –

(Ottawa) After 1,019 days behind bars in China, Michael Kovrig believed his ordeal was finally over. Now it is being extended due to Michael Spavor’s espionage allegations.

Published at 12:26 am.


“I have never been involved in espionage activities,” the former Canadian Foreign Ministry official said in a statement to La Presse.

The Chinese regime itself “neither claimed that I was a secret service agent nor mentioned Michael Spavor,” notes the man who regained his freedom in 2021.

And when he learned in the pages of the Globe and Mail that the other of the “two Michaels” had accused him of being the instigator of their arrest and that he had also retained the services of a lawyer, he plunged back into the nightmare .

We and our families suffered terribly during the 1,019 days of our detention. Repeating these claims about the reasons for our imprisonment only prolongs the pain we are trying to overcome.

Michael Kovrig

Michael Kovrig served as a diplomat for Canada in China from 2014 to 2016. One of his mandates was to work with Chinese authorities to stop the North Koreans from developing and contributing to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

A compatriot had just arrived in Pyongyang: Michael Spavor, whose exploits included organizing the meeting between Kim Jong-un and basketball player Dennis Rodman.

So the diplomat met with the entrepreneur, because to better understand North Korea, you need to talk to people who know the country well, conduct analyzes and make recommendations.

“Any insinuation that I was not transparent in my interactions with Michael Spavor is false,” insists the man, who is back at the International Crisis Group (ICG), where he was when he was arrested in December 2018 .

Defend yourself again

His employer rejects these allegations. “Michael was a political hostage who was arrested and detained by China as part of an extortion plot against the Canadian government,” an ICG spokesperson said.

In government, where we may be facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, we have not commented directly on the allegations made by the person threatening these legal actions.

On the other hand, Ottawa warned that this only “fueled the baseless theory” that China used to justify the arbitrary detention of the two Michaels. In Beijing we quickly seized the opportunity to reiterate this.

Michael Kovrig also argues this. He pleaded this again and again in the Chinese prison where he languished for nearly three years of his life after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.

“Despite being subjected to months of detention, coercion, interrogation, psychological torture, loneliness and insecurity, I always maintained my innocence during my arrest and again during my trial,” he emphasizes.

“I still do that today,” he laments.

In the November 18 Globe and Mail, the lawyer employed by Michael Kovrig, John Kingman Philipps, claims that his client was arrested by China because of information he allegedly provided about the North-North regime. Korean.

But before the country was seized by the Chinese authorities on December 10, 2018, they gave me “no indication that my work and travel in China could pose a problem,” defends the former diplomat.

As evidence, he cites that in October of that year, less than two months before his imprisonment, he was invited to participate as a panelist at the 8th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing.

Difficult return to normality

China has always denied that Michael Kovrig was a political hostage. In September 2021, Chinese state media reported that he admitted to espionage. “That is completely wrong. That is not the case,” assures Michael Kovrig.

In the end he became a free man again. Just hours after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was released, a government plane brought the two Michaels home.

Although he remained discreet afterwards, we still saw him receive a huge ovation in the House of Commons during the visit of American President Joe Biden last March – together with his unlucky companion.

Last September, he took part in a high-level dialogue on arbitrary detention at the United Nations convened by Secretary of State Mélanie Joly and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Until now, he had no desire to speak publicly about his experiences in prison or to explain the difficult prison conditions. This painful chapter begins again with Michael Spavor’s allegations.

“During his incarceration, Michael demonstrated exceptional strength and character,” the ICG, which worked tirelessly for his release, said in a statement issued by his former partner Vina Nadjibulla.

“He has earned the respect of people around the world. We believe he has also earned the right to a degree of discretion and freedom to move on with his life,” the organization concluded.

Michael Spavor’s lawyer claimed the same thing. “We ask for your respect [sa] “To protect privacy and refer all inquiries to our office,” said Mr. Kingman Philipps.