Canadian charged with spying in China

  • 29/01/2016
Dandong, China (Getty file)
Dandong, China (Getty file)

A Canadian citizen detained by China since 2014 has been indicted on charges of spying and stealing state secrets, the Xinhua state news agency is reporting.

Kevin Garratt was detained in August 2014 near China's sensitive border with North Korea where he operated a coffee house with his wife, who was also detained for months before being released last year.

The case inflamed tensions between Ottawa and Beijing, but Canada has not been able to secure Garratt's release despite expressing concern about the arrest, which happened less than a week after Canada accused Chinese hackers of breaking into a key computer network.

Xinhua yesterday said Garratt had been indicted in Dandong, a city in China's northeast where the Garratts, longtime residents of China, had operated a cafe since 2008.

"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 Canadian government did not immediately comment.

The indictment was announced the day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior cabinet ministers attended a lavish party in Ottawa hosted by China to mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The prime minister at the time was Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau's father, a man still held in high regard in Beijing.

Shortly after Trudeau's Liberals won power last October, China invited him for a state visit.

Garratt's son, Simeon Garratt, a Vancouver resident, said he was waiting for an update from his family's legal team in China.

"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," Garratt said in an interview.