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Canadian man accused of spying in China gets visit by consular officials

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OTTAWA — Global Affairs Canada says consular officials in China paid a visit Monday to detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig.

It is the fifth time Kovrig has received a consular visit since he was detained by Chinese authorities in early December, but the first since an anonymous report in Chinese state media accused him and fellow detainee Michael Spavor of stealing state secrets.

Spavor has received four consular visits thus far.

The two have not had access to lawyers, nor been formally charged. They receive one visit from Canadian officials a month.

The Canadian government says their detentions are arbitrary and warns Canadians travelling to China to do so with a “high degree of caution” because of the arbitrary application of local laws.

Canada is calling for the immediate release of both men.

Canadian officials have complained the two men are being held in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou under an extradition request from the United States.

Global Affairs notes the number of countries who back Canada’s position on the matter including the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain and Denmark as well as NATO and the European Union.

Consular visits typically include assessing the well-being of the men, trying to get them medical attention if needed and helping them communicate with loved ones.

Because of privacy laws, no specifics about the visit can be made public.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Kovrig and Spavor had been charged with stealing state secrets.


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Canada resettled more refugees than any other country in 2018, UN says

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OTTAWA — The United Nations Refugee Agency says Canada admitted the largest number of resettled refugees last year and had the second highest rate of refugees who gained citizenship.

The UNHCR’s annual global trends report shows that Canada took in 28,100 of the 92,400 refugees who were resettled in 25 countries during 2018.

The report shows that over 18,000 refugees became Canadian citizens last year.

Canada placed ninth in the world for asylum seekers with 55,400 claims filed in 2018.

UNHCR Canada’s senior resettlement officer Michael Casasola says Canada has been a leader on welcoming refugees, but worries that asylum seekers may become a punching bag issue during this fall’s federal election.

Overall, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict worldwide ballooned to over 70 million — the highest level since the Second World War.

The Canadian Press

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Police say baby boy subject of Amber Alert in Alberta found safe

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FAIRVIEW, Alta. — Police in northwestern Alberta have cancelled an Amber Alert for a seven-month-old boy who was believed to have been abducted by his father.

RCMP say the baby was found “safe and unharmed” less than two hours after he was taken from his home in Fairview, about 550 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Police say a suspect is in custody.

The Canadian Press

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