Michael Kovrig urges unity against hostage diplomacy, as Canada helps craft rules

OTTAWA — A Canadian man who was held in China for nearly three years is calling on governments around the world to co-ordinate sanctions and travel bans on states that arrest foreigners for political reasons.

Michael Kovrig says support from Canadian consular officials and the public buoyed him during his detention in China, where he and fellow Canadian Michael Spavor were arrested in December 2018.

China was widely viewed to have detained the men in retaliation for arrest of Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou days earlier at the Vancouver airport on a U.S. extradition warrant.

They were brought home to Canada the same day Meng returned to China after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S.

Canada is leading an effort alongside the United States, Malawi and Costa Rica to stop countries from feeling emboldened to pursue arbitrary detention for political leverage.

Speaking at a United Nations forum the Trudeau government organized, Kovrig says that effort should also help countries document cases and share guidance with countries facing this situation for the first time.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2023.

The Canadian Press