Supporters of two Canadian men imprisoned in China marked the pair’s 1,000th day of “unjust” detention on Sunday, as the United States called for their release and Beijing condemned what it called Canada’s “gross interference” in its judicial sovereignty.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested separately in China in December 2018 shortly after Canada arrested a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei on a US extradition request.
Both men were held virtually incommunicado and have since been convicted of spying in closed Chinese courts – a process that Canada and dozens of allies say amounts to arbitrary detention.
In Ottawa, hundreds of supporters of the two men staged a march on Sunday, seeking to replicate the 7,000 steps that Kovrig has tried to walk every day in his cramped cell to maintain his physical and mental wellbeing.
“It’s an extremely difficult milestone, but one that we want to mark in this way, in part, to honour the strength and resilience that Michael and Michael Spavor have shown,” said Kovrig’s wife, Vina Nadjibulla.
Spavor, a businessman, and Kovrig, who works with the International Crisis Group and is a former Canadian diplomat, went on trial in March.
Spavor was handed an 11-year jail sentence on national security charges last month shortly before the extradition hearings for Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive, concluded.
“We worry about him, but we find strength from all the support we get,” said Paul Spavor, his brother.
Kovrig has yet to hear the verdict in his case.