China brings Canada businessman Spavor to trial for espionage in closed-door trial, sparking outcry

"We are deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these proceedings," said Jim Nickel, a Canadian Embassy official in Beijing.

Updated: March 19, 2021 - 8:09am

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A Chinese court on Friday held a closed-door trial for Canadian businessman Michael Spavor, after detaining him for over two years on espionage charges.

Spavor worked to promote cultural trips to North Korea before being detained in late 2018, in apparent retaliation for Canada arresting Chinese technology executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States, according to The New York Times.

The court, in the city of Dandong, issued a statement after the roughly two-hour trial concluded that said Spavor had been tried on charges of spying and "illegally providing state secrets for foreign countries" and that a verdict would be announced at a later date.

The public and news media were barred by authorities from attending the trial.

Ten diplomats representing eight countries, including Canada and the United States, tried to seek access to the trial but were turned away. The court said the trial was held private because it involved state secrets, The Times also reported.