China frees Canadian national detained for working illegally

11:19 AM | 29 Dec, 2018
China frees Canadian national detained for working illegally
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OTTAWA - A Canadian teacher arrested in China for administrative reasons -- a case officially unrelated to the ongoing diplomatic row between Beijing and Ottawa -- has been freed, authorities said Friday.

Global Affairs Canada "confirms that a Canadian citizen, who was detained in China in December, was released and has now returned to Canada," spokesman Richard Walker said, without providing further details.

The arrest of Sarah McIver, a teacher accused of working illegally in China, was announced shortly after that of two other Canadian nationals: former diplomat Michael Kovrig, employed by think tank International Crisis Group (ICG), and Michael Spavor, a consultant on North Korea, on December 10.

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The two men, whom China arrested on December 10, were detained on suspicion of "harm to national security" -- a phrase often used by Beijing when alleging espionage.

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The detention of the three Canadians comes against a backdrop of escalating tensions between China and Canada, which arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wangzhou on December 1.

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Meng was released on bail last week in Vancouver pending a US extradition hearing on US fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran.