Michael Kovrig, northeast Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group (Picture Credits: Twitter)
Michael Kovrig, northeast Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group (Picture Credits: Twitter)

Former Canadian diplomat's wife urges govt to fasten extradition process with China

ANI | Updated: Jun 24, 2020 11:26 IST

Toronto [Canada], June 24 (ANI): "The meaning of life is to alleviate suffering," wrote former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig to his wife from his small cell in Beijing where he was detained following China's accusation of him being involved in espionage, a crime punishable by life in prison.
Kovrig (48), along with fellow Canadian businessman, Michael Spavor, was detained in China days after the arrest at Vancouver airport of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of US, where she is wanted for fraud related to violations of sanctions against Iran.
Kovrig's wife, Vina Naadjibulla, told The Globe and Mail that her husband had in his letters to her hinted at what he has endured during his 561 days of detention. She said he has been interrogated for countless hours, plagued by tinnitus, fed boiled rice and vegetables - and so completely cut off from the world that he has not so much as seen a tree since he was taken away by China's state security agents.
"In one of his letters, he actually said, 'I now believe the meaning of life is to alleviate suffering', " Nadjibulla was quoted as saying.
"Sometimes, he signs his letters: Rest assured I remain resolute and resilient," Kovrig's said.
While the Canadian government says that he is working hard to secure his release, Nadjibulla urges them to hasten the process as the legal challenges could stretch the extradition process to five to eight years. Kovrig has maintained his mental acuity, his health and even Canada's national reputation while behind bars, she said while adding, "Quite frankly, Michael doesn't have eight years...he is in a fight for his life."
"He and Michael Spavor have ended up in this situation because of no fault of their own. They are pawns in a bigger geopolitical drama. They are paying an incredible price. I can't even begin to explain how incredibly painful and prolonged this has been," she said.
By detaining an innocent man China wants to convey to the world that nobody is safe including those helping in improving international relations, Kovrig's wife said.
"I truly believe that by doing this, China sends a message to the rest of the world that is chilling - that basically says, 'nobody is safe here.' That even folks that are genuinely trying to understand, to build bridges, to improve relations, can be arbitrarily detained because of a geopolitical struggle that they had nothing to do with."
Both Michaels have been put into six months of isolation and interrogation, under what China calls "residential surveillance at a designated location." His letters censored and his conversations with consular officials monitored.
Meanwhile, China continues to be doing hostage diplomacy as it presses for release of Meng. The Chinese officials have said that there is no evidence against the men while adding that "the facts of the crime are clear."
Though the Canadian government has said that it is working hard in securing the release of both the Canadians, Nadjibulla has urged them to fasten the process as appeals and legal challenges could extend the extradition process in Canada over five to eight years.
"Quite frankly, Michael doesn't have eight years.. He is in a fight for his life," she said. (ANI)