In this file image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-governmental organization, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

Chinese allow Michael Kovrig telephone call to sick father amid COVID-19

Since the outbreak, the Chinese government has ‘tried its best to address their reasonable concerns’ of the detainees

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese embassy in Canada says Michael Kovrig has been allowed to have a telephone conversation with his father, who is very ill.

The embassy says in a statement that they allowed this for humanitarian reasons, and it also says Kovrig and fellow detainee Michael Spavor are being given better food to strengthen their immunity against the novel coronavirus, which originated in China.

“China’s judicial authorities have ensured that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have received adequate humanitarian treatment as other suspects of the same kind,” the statement says.

“Both of them are physically sound and mentally stable. Their lawful rights are fully protected.”

Since the outbreak, the Chinese government has “tried its best to address their reasonable concerns” of the detainees.

“The authorities have provided better food for all the detainees, including Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, so as to help strengthen their immunity,” the statement says.

“Second, given the relevant detention centres have been totally enclosed due to the epidemic, to ensure their contacts with the Canadian Consular agencies in China, the frequency of transference of letters and parcels to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor has been increased as interim arrangements.”

The embassy does not provide further details about the condition of Kovrig’s father, and does not specify whether his medical condition has anything to do with the current global pandemic.

READ MORE: Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

“The Chinese authorities, proceeding from humanitarian consideration, have allowed Michael Kovrig to have a phone conversation with his father as a special arrangement within the law, when they learned that Michael Kovrig’s father is very ill,” said the statement. ”The aforementioned measures have fully demonstrated China’s goodwill, and Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have expressed their gratitude.”

But Friday’s Chinese statement also maintains Beijing’s firm position since the events of December 2018, which have plunged Sino-Canadian relations to a new low. Kovrig, a diplomat on leave who was working with the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been imprisoned in China since December 2018. Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou nine days earlier.

Friday’s statement says Kovrig and Spavor are “suspected” of endangering China’s national security and their cases are being handled lawfully while the Canadian government can’t “explain which law of Canada Ms. Meng Wanzhou violated.”

“For some time, a few people in Canada have been hyping up the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and comparing them to the case of the innocent Chinese citizen who was arbitrarily detained by Canada,” the embassy says.

The update represents a window into the secretive detention of the two Canadians; neither government has provided great detail about the conditions under which the “two Michaels” are being kept. Each has been allowed regular consular visits about once a month, but so far, neither man has been allowed contact with their family, or access to a lawyer.

Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, recently said little is being said about the two men to adhere to the wishes of their families.

The Canadian government maintains the “two Michaels” are being arbitrarily detained.

Meng was arrested by the RCMP on an extradition request from the U.S.

Meng is out on bail and living in a luxury Vancouver home, as her extradition hearing remains before a British Columbia court.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First responders continue to rally in support of Kelowna health care workers

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters for the second night in a row

COSAR assists first responders with injured hiker in K.L.O. Creek Park in Kelowna

This is the second incident COSAR has responded to in 24 hours

Vehicle goes up in smoke in Kelowna garage

Fire department on-scene in 200 block of Poplar Point Drive near Knox Mountain

COSAR rescues two lost hikers from Okanagan Mountain Park

Two male hikers were overdue from a hike they left for on the morning of March 28

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Okanagan women spending quarantine making masks

Group at Predator Ridge, and a colleague in Vernon, keeping busy making surgical masks for others

Most Read