Wife of Canadian detained in China speaks out
By Karen Freifeld
(Reuters) - A Canadian's wife, who was arrested in Beijing after Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, asked the Canadian Minister of Justice on Tuesday to intervene in the extradition case of the Chinese executive and to release her.
48-year-old Michael Kovrig, who was arrested by the Chinese authorities in December 2018, was officially charged with espionage last week. It is generally believed that his arrest, like that of Canadian businessman Michael Spavor at the same time, is retaliation for Meng's fraud arrest in the United States.
Kovrig's wife Vina Nadjibulla, who lives in Toronto, has been fighting for his release since his arrest, but went public for the first time this week.
"The situation for Michael is getting worse," she said in an interview with Reuters. "It's completely cut off and isolated. We believe this is the moment to consider all the options. We have no time left."
Nadjibulla said legal experts have determined that the Canadian Justice Minister has the power to stop the extradition process at any time if it is in the national interest, not just after the trial is over.
"Options that end the extradition process are under the rule of law," said Nadjibulla. "And that could open space for a solution to the situation of the two Michaels."
The Canadian Department of Justice recognized the toll that "arbitrary detention" continued to take against Kovrig, Spavor and their families.
However, for political reasons, the minister's authority was delegated until the judge decides on extradition, a spokesman said. The minister must then decide whether to order the surrender or release of the subject.
Kovrig spent months in solitary confinement after his arrest. He now has cellmates, but still can't go outside.
The family spoke to him on the phone on March 12th. They last received a letter from him about a month later.
Kovrig went to China as a diplomat in 2013, but worked as a consultant for the International Crisis Group when he was arrested. Nadjibulla left China in 2017 when the couple separated, but has made efforts to achieve his release.
"Michael didn't do anything wrong," she said.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Peter Cooney)
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