A Toronto man living in China says he was wrongfully imprisoned after refusing to spy on Canada.

Ryan Collins first moved to Shenzhen in 2010. He said he fell in love with the country, and a woman, and made a living working as a freelance computer repairman.

After a few odd jobs, the owner of a software company approached him with a serious proposition.

“He had asked me to get into the Canadian government via a software program, paired with hardware which would be used by the Chinese government through this individual and his company to commit espionage in Canada,” Collins said.

Collins said when he realized what was being asked of him, he immediately cut ties. He said he was then arrested on a charge of espionage and beaten in jail.

“What I uncovered is something I never asked to see,” he said.

“I was framed for crimes that I did not commit because of what I had seen and what I was asked to do.”

Collins spent eight days in prison, and his family paid the equivalent of C$1,000 to get him out and into a safe house. They’re raising funds to get him to the airport and to buy him a ticket home.

“The last few weeks of my life have been like a movie. It’s like something you’d see in Hollywood,” he said, adding that the threats on his life continue.

“I was told very early that [the owner] could come to my house and put a bullet in my brain and nobody would care and nobody would know.”