Canada is expressing concern after China indicted a Canadian citizen on charges of spying and stealing state secrets.
Kevin Garratt had been detained since August 2014 near China’s sensitive border with North Korea, along with his wife, who was held for months before being released last year, Reuters reports.
Xinhua state news agency said Garratt was indicted in Dandong, a city in China’s northeast where the Garratt had operated a cafe since 2008.
“During the investigation, Chinese authorities also found evidence which implicates Garratt in accepting tasks from Canadian espionage agencies to gather intelligence in China,” Xinhua reported.
The case has inflamed tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.
The arrest happened less than a week after Canada accused Chinese hackers of breaking into a key computer network.
“Canada finds the indictment of Kevin Garratt by China concerning,” said foreign ministry spokesman Francois Lasalle.
“The Government of Canada has raised this case with the Chinese Government at high levels … We remain in contact with Chinese authorities and the family, and are monitoring developments closely,” he added.
The indictment was announced the day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior cabinet ministers attended a lavish party in Ottawa hosted by China to mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Diplomatic ties began under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father.
China invited Justin Trudeau for a state visit shortly after he won power in October.
Garratt’s son, Simeon Garratt, a Vancouver resident, said he was waiting for an update from his family’s legal team in China.
“We don’t really have any more word on it other than that. We haven’t had access to anything to this point. It’s a waiting game to be honest,” Garratt said in an interview.
He said his mother is still not able to leave China. Julia Garratt was released in February but barred from leaving.
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