dpa/GNA – The trials of two Canadian citizens who have been detained in the People’s Republic China for more than a year on espionage charges are set to begin in the coming days in China.

According to Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, the trial of Michael Spavor is to begin on Friday, while Michael Kovrig will appear in court on Monday.

Kovrig, a former diplomat, and his compatriot Spavor were arrested in China on December 10, 2018. Both had been detained just days after the arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Diplomats and critics suspect this is retaliation and accuse China of “hostage diplomacy.” Officially, both have been charged with suspicion of espionage.

Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 at the instigation of US authorities.

The US government accuses her of bank fraud in connection with the circumvention of sanctions against Iran. Meng is under house arrest in Canada. If she is extradited to the US and convicted there, she could face a long prison sentence.

“The arbitrary detention of Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor is a top priority for the government of Canada and we continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release,” Garneau said.

“We believe these detentions are arbitrary, and remain deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these proceedings.”

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