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China formally charges Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after months of detention

Two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — have been formally arrested by the Chinese government for espionage-related offences and violating China’s national security after being detained without charges since December, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Thursday.

Spokesperson Lu Kang told reporters in his daily briefing that Kovrig has been arrested for “gathering state secrets” and Spavor has been arrested for “stealing secrets and illegally providing them to overseas forces.”

He did not specify when both men were arrested, but said the arrests were made “recently.”

Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, a businessman and entrepreneur, were detained Dec. 10 — days after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, who has since been released on bail.

Officials previously told the Star Kovrig and Spavor were possibly held in retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to the Star’s request for comment, but previously said Kovrig and Spavor have not have not had access to lawyers or their families.

Last week, they said a number of officials in China have visited both have been had several visits from consular officials in China.

Temur Durrani is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @temurdur

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