U.S. demands the release of Canadian prisoners being held in China

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Michael Spavor, a Canadian businessman and Michael Kovrig, right, a former Canadian diplomat, detained in China since December 2018, are shown on a video monitor as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Washington. (Photo by Manuel Balce CENATA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MANUEL BALCE CENATA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Spavor, a Canadian businessman and Michael Kovrig, right, a former Canadian diplomat, detained in China since December 2018, are shown on a video monitor as fmr US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks during a news conference at the State Department. (Photo by MANUEL BALCE CENATA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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UPDATED 10:00 AM PT – Saturday, February 26, 2021

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. stands in solidarity with Canada after two Canadian nationals were detained in China. On Friday, Blinken said the United States demands the immediate release of prisoners Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

He said the pair’s arbitrary detention, which followed Canada’s arrest of a top Huawei official last year, was for political purposes. He added the issue brought together dozens of countries who echoed similar calls in condemnation of China.

Turnisa Matsedik-Qira, of the Vancouver Uyghur Association, demonstrates against China's treatment of Uyghurs while holding a photo of detained Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig outside a court appearance for Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver on May 8, 2019. - Meng, whose Vancouver arrest on a US warrant triggered a diplomatic row between Ottawa and Beijing, was to appear in court to fight for her release. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo credit should read JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

Turnisa Matsedik-Qira, of the Vancouver Uyghur Association, demonstrates against China’s treatment of Uyghurs while holding a photo of detained Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig outside a court appearance for Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver on May 8, 2019.(Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) 

 

“Canada has taken, I think, a very important initiative that was inspired by the two Michaels, but goes even beyond that,” Blinken noted. “And that is to bring countries together to stand against the arbitrary detention of individuals for political purposes, a practice that we see in a number of countries including China.”

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 23: U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken (L) and National Security Council Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez (R) participate in a virtual bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. This is Biden and Trudeau’s first bilateral meeting. (Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 23: U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken (L) and National Security Council Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez (R) participate in a virtual bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. This is Biden and Trudeau’s first bilateral meeting. (Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images)

 

Blinken did not go into specifics regarding how the U.S. is supporting Canada and referred all future questions to the Justice Department.

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