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China says it has no information on detained ex-Canadian diplomat

International Crisis Group's North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig. INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP

China’s Foreign Ministry says it has no information about a former Canadian diplomat believed to have been detained in Beijing in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a leading Chinese executive.

While declining to confirm the detention of Michael Kovrig, ministry spokesman Lu Kang says the International Crisis Group, for whom Kovrig is an analyst based in Hong Kong, was not registered in China and its activities in the country would be illegal.

The International Crisis Group says Kovrig, who previously was a diplomat in China and elsewhere, was taken into custody by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security on Monday night during one of his regular visits to Beijing.

Meanwhile, Lu repeated China’s demand for the immediate release of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.

Wanzhou was arrested at the Vancouver airport Dec. 1 and a B.C. judge released her on bail and under strict conditions late Tuesday afternoon after a three-day hearing.

The 46-year-old could face extradition to the U.S., which alleges Huawei skirted trade sanctions against Iran.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has contacted Chinese authorities about Kovrig’s detention.

“We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously and we are, of course, providing consular assistance to the family,” Trudeau said in Ottawa.

So far, it’s unclear whether there is any link between the two cases.

With files from The Canadian Press

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