CHINA TOPIX

Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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China Releases Canadian Man Charged With Spying After Prime Minister Trudeau Intercedes

China Releases Canadian Man on Spying Charges After Prime Minister Intercession

(Photo : Getty Images) Kevin Garratt, a Canadian citizen accused of spying on China, has been released after being detained in China for two years and is now "resting at home."

China on Thursday released a Canadian man who had been detained for two years on espionage charges after the intercession of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Kevin Garratt, the Canadian man, was arrested with his wife in 2014 in Beijing for allegedly spying for Canada. He has returned home to Vancouver "and is now resting," according to Garratt's family.

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Kevin's wife, Julia Garratt, was released shortly after their arrest in August 2014.

Spying

The Garratt couple was operating a cafe on the North Korean border and helping out refugees when they were arrested by Chinese police who accused them of stealing and passing state secrets to Canada.

Garratt's release comes on the heels of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's to China earlier this month. Trudeau is said to have raised the case before high-ranking Chinese officials in Beijing.

Chinese officials reportedly assured the Canadian PM that Garratt would be treated humanely during his detention.

Family

"We are delighted that Kevin Garratt has returned safely to Canada and is with his family once more," Trudeau said in a statement released after Garratt's return to Canada. "We remain deeply impressed by the grace and resilience of the Garratt family, especially Kevin and his wife, Julia."

Canadian officials announced this week that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to visit Canada later this month.

Journey

Kevin's lawyer, James Zimmerman, and Sean Robertson, a Canadian embassy official in Beijing, escorted Garratt on his journey back home to Canada,  Zimmerman told reporters at a press briefing.

"The family appreciates the strong, persistent efforts of the Canadian government to secure Kevin's release," said Zimmerman.

Garratt's family said that although a Chinese court had issued a decision and ordered Kevin's deportation, the ruling did not indicate the court's conclusion in the espionage case.

The Garratt couple had lived in Dandong, China, on the border of Beijing and North Korea since 1984, running a popular coffee shop when they were arrested by Chinese authorities.

The couple has denied the espionage charges saying these are "absurd" and "baseless."

Their son, Simeon, said his parents helped teach English to locals and had set up a charity group to provide financial aid to North Korean refugees.  

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