Canada offers financial settlements to two men detained in China in 2018 News
Daehanmindecline, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Canada offers financial settlements to two men detained in China in 2018

The Canadian government has offered to provide a matched settlement to Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on Tuesday following their incarceration in Chinese prisons in 2018, according to government sources for Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. The two Canadians were charged with espionage and a breach of state secrets amidst a dispute between Canada and the US against China.

Spavor and Kovrig were incarcerated for almost three years after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, a chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., a multinational technology company. However, China released both Canadians on the same day that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released Wanzhou, allowing her to return to China.

In the arrest of both men, Spavor alleged that he was imprisoned for sharing information with Canadian diplomat and Global Security Reporting Program (GSRP) officer Krovig that unintentionally exposed what was shared with special units. As a result, Krovig was also charged with obtaining state secrets. According to The Globe and Mail, Krovig stated that he was only following the “standards of law, rules and regulations governing diplomats.”

The federal lawyers offered around $3 million to both—although Spavor’s lawyers requested $10.5 million for alleged negligence based on the handling of Chinese security operations in addition to the hardship resulting from their imprisonment. With no expectation of meeting Spavor’s request, the government seeks to only match settlements among both men for their hardship while detained.

In urging a settlement, the government highlights a particular concern regarding any potential litigation brought by Spavor that would bring forth Canada’s Global Security Reporting Program to the public eye. Canada’s Global Security Reporting Program is responsible for reviewing national security activities but has been questioned for its actions that place Canadian officers and interests at risk, leading to a call for serious reform in governance and training.

An established settlement agreement is anticipated by next year.