China says case of detained Canadians turned over to prosecutors

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that an investigation into two Canadians detained on state security charges since December last year had ended, and the case had been turned over to prosecutors.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co’s [HWT.UL] Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. warrant.

Canada says their arrests were “arbitrary”, and has been in a diplomatic dispute with China since then.

“Whoever started the trouble first should end it,” Geng Shuang, spokesman at China’s foreign ministry, said at a regular media briefing.

“We urge the Canadians to value China’s solemn stance and concerns, correct their mistakes and immediately release Ms Meng Wanzhou to allow her to return peacefully to China.”

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the U.S. government should not finalize a trade deal with China unless the pact also secured the release of the two Canadians.

Joseph Crook, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, said Washington was deeply concerned by the arrest of the two Canadians.

Geng said Canada’s attempt to link Sino-U.S. trade matters with other issues was doomed to fail.

“As for the two citizens Canada is constantly nagging about, these two people were suspected of conducting activities that harm China’s national security,” Geng said.

“China’s investigative organs have completed their investigation, and according to law, have handed them over to procuratorate and is going through the review and being prosecuted.”

(Reporting by Huizhong Wu; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel)

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