CHINA TOPIX

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

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China's Indictment of Canadian Citizen for Spying Sparks Diplomatic Tension

Peter Garratt

(Photo : Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images) Police vehicles enter the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court . China has indicted a Canadian man for alleged espionage and stealing state secrets, sparking diplomatic tensions between the two nations.

China's indictment of a Canadian man, detained since 2014 for allegedly spying and stealing state secrets, has sparked diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Ottawa, China's state-run news agency, Xinhua reported.

The Canadian government has expressed 'concern' about the situation of Kevin Garratt, a Canadian citizen, who is facing charges of spying and stealing state secrets in China.

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Garratt was indicted in Dandong city in northeast China where he and his wife had been running a cafe business since 2008.

Garrett's wife, Julia, was reportedly also detained for several  months for the same charges before being released in February last year. She has been barred from leaving China since her release.

                                                               Damning evidence

"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 intensified diplomatic tensions between the two countries. The arrest was made less than a week after the Canadian government accused Chinese hackers of breaking into its key computer network.

"Canada finds the indictment of Kevin Garratt by China concerning," said Francois Lasalle, a spokesman for the Canada foreign department.

                                                               Case elevated

Francois said Canada has already raised the case with the Chinese government and that Ottawa officials are in touch with China and Garrett's family. Canada said it is closely monitoring developments in the case against Garrett.

The indictment was announced a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and high-ranking officials attended a party hosted by China in Ottawa in celebration of the 45th anniversary of mutual diplomatic relations.

Garratt's son, Simeon, a resident of Vancouver, said they are still awaiting developments from their legal team in China.

                                                            Deportation

"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," Simeon said in an interview.

A former diplomat said he hopes that the indictment will lead to the process of deportation of Garrett and his wife to Canada.

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who had served two tours of duty in China, voiced hoped  that China will deport Garrett and his wife on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. 

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