Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG), is accused by the Chinese authorities of “stealing sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017,” while Spavor, a businessman based in Beijing with a focus on North Korea, is accused of providing intelligence to Kovrig.
The two men were detained following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, over allegations the company violated United States sanctions on Iran. Meng has been held in Canada ever since, awaiting potential extradition to the US.
Trudeau has repeatedly refused to consider any trade of the two Canadians for Meng.
Speaking earlier this year, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Ottawa had tried “to draw parallels between the Meng Wanzhou case and the cases of the two Canadian nationals in an attempt to confuse right and wrong with ulterior motives.”
“It is seeking to resort to megaphone diplomacy and gang up on China,” she added. “This hasn’t worked in the past, and will never work in the future.”
Steve Jiang reported from Beijing, James Griffiths reported from Hong Kong. CNN’s Philip Wang contributed reporting from Atlanta.