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Two Canadians in prisoner swap freed for health reasons: China – CTV News

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TAIPEI, TAIWAN —
Two Canadians detained in late 2018 who were allowed to return to Canada in a prisoner swap were released on bail for health reasons, China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.

A ministry spokesperson made the comment as Beijing sought to downplay the connection between their release and the return to China of a long-detained executive of Huawei Technologies.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in December 2018, days after Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities.

Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics,” while China accused Canada of arbitrary detention. The two Canadians were jailed for more than 1,000 days.

Meng fought the U.S. demand for extradition from Canada. She landed in China on Saturday after reaching a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that led to a prisoner swap.

“The case of Meng Wanzhou is completely different from that of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in nature,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Monday.

The two men were suspected of endangering national security, Hua said.

Spavor, an entrepreneur, had been sentenced to 11 years in prison, accused of spying. Korvrig had not yet been sentenced but was facing similar charges.

China released the two Canadians on bail after a “diagnosis by professional medical institutions, and with the guarantee of the Canadian ambassador to China,” Hua said.

Hua did not answer questions from journalists about whether the prisoner releases were entirely unrelated and what the health reasons were.

Canada has maintained that Kovrig and Spavor were innocent of any charges.

“As we have said from the beginning, Michael Kovrig’s and Michael Spavor’s detention, and the treatment they were subjected to up until their departure from China, was arbitrary,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement. “These two men are innocent.”

Meng reached an agreement with U.S. federal prosecutors that will drop fraud charges against her next year. In return, she is accepting responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Her return to China was broadcasted live on the country’s state broadcaster, CCTV, as she wore a red dress the shade of China’s flag and thanked the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, and the ruling Communist Party.

On Monday, Hua said Meng was a victim of “political persecution” and was able to return to China thanks to the “government’s unrelenting efforts.”

In contrast, news about the release of the two Michaels was reported by the state-owned tabloid Global Times, and while the news spread online, it was not carried by more authoritative state media agencies such as CCTV or Xinhua News Agency.

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a technological world power — and a subject of U.S. security and law enforcement concerns.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology, including Google’s music and other smartphone services, and later barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.

——

Associated Press video producer Liu Zheng contributed to this report

Correction:

This story has been corrected to reflect the fact Kovrig and Spavor were detained on espionage charges since Dec. 2018.

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China condemns U.S., Canada for sending warships through Taiwan Strait

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The  Chinese military on Sunday condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.

China claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei.

China sent around 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on Oct. 1 in a further heightening of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.

The U.S. military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.

“Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it added.

China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said its forces monitored the ships and “stood guard” throughout their passage.

“The United States and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble… seriously jeopardising peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” it said.

“Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Theatre forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations.”

U.S. Navy Ships have been transiting the strait roughly monthly, to the anger of Beijing, which has accused Washington of stoking regional tensions. U.S. allies occasionally also send ships through the strait, including Britain https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/british-frigate-sails-through-taiwan-strait-2021-09-27last month.

While tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen, there has been no shooting and Chinese aircraft have not entered Taiwanese air space, concentrating their activity in the southwestern part of the ADIZ.

While including Taiwanese territorial air space, the ADIZ encompasses a broader area that Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that three Chinese aircraft – two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine aircraft – flew into the ADIZ again.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Pravin Char and John

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No end in sight to volcanic eruption on Spain’s La Palma – Canaries president

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There’s no immediate end in sight to the  volcanic eruption that has caused chaos on the Spanish isle of La Palma since it began about a month ago, the president of the Canary Islands said on Sunday.

There were 42 seismic movements on the island on Sunday, the largest of which measured 4.3, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute.

“There are no signs that an end of the eruption is imminent even though this is the greatest desire of everyone,” President Angel Víctor Torres said at a Socialist party conference in Valencia, citing the view of scientists.

Streams of lava have laid waste to more than 742 hectares (1833 acres) of land and destroyed almost 2,000 buildings on La Palma since the volcano started erupting on Sept. 19.

About 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has about 83,000 inhabitants and forms part of the Canary Islands archipelago off northwestern Africa.

Airline Binter said it had cancelled all its flights to La Palma on Sunday because of ash from the volcano.

“Due to the current situation of the ash cloud, operations with La Palma will continue to be paralyzed throughout today. We continue to evaluate the situation,” the airline tweeted.

Almost half – 22 out of 38 – of all flights to the island on Sunday have been cancelled, state airport operator Aena said, but the airport there remains open.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Son of ex-Somali political aide held over UK lawmaker stabbing

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Ali Harbi Ali, the son of an ex-media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia, has been arrested by British police under  anti-terrorism laws following the killing of lawmaker David Amess, a source close to the investigation and British media said.

Amess, 69, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, was knifed repeatedly as he met constituency voters in a church on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London.

The killing took place five years after the murder of Jo Cox, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party, and has prompted a review of politicians’ security.

Police said they had arrested a 25-year-old British man at the scene on suspicion of murder and have said it is believed he acted alone. They have not named the suspect but used additional powers under anti-terrorism laws to detain him until Oct. 22.

A British source close to the investigation named Ali Harbi Ali, a British citizen, as the detained suspect.

Harbi Ali Kullane, the father of Ali Harbi Ali, told The Sunday Times that his son had been arrested in connection with the murder.

“At this particular moment we are going through (an)unprecedented and horrific situation,” Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to Hassan Ali Khaire, a former Somali prime minister, told Reuters in an email when asked about this.

“Due to the ongoing early investigation I am obliged and commanded not to talk about it,” said Harbi Ali Kullane, who is a former director of the Somali government’s media and communication department.

British police were on Sunday searching an address in north London linked to Ali Harbi Ali, Reuters reporters said.

Interior Minister Priti Patel said on Sunday Britain is considering a number of options to boost the security of lawmakers.

(Reporting by Nazanine Moshiri in Nairobi and Guy Faulconbridge in LondonAdditional reporting by Costas PitasEditing by Alex Richardson and Frances Kerry)

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