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A Vancouver Freedom and Democracy for China representative with photos of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in 2019. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

A court in Dandong, China, sentenced Canadian businessman Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison Wednesday after finding him guilty of espionage. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the sentence as "unacceptable and unjust."

Why it matters: The detention of Spavor, along with former diplomat Michael Kovrig following their 2018 arrests, is widely viewed as retaliatory action by the Chinese government for Canada's detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who's accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

  • The sentencing suggests that a Beijing court is set to find Kovrig guilty in his spying case.
  • It's also likely to increase already strained tensions between the governments of China and Canada.

What they're saying: Trudeau said in a statement that the verdict in Spavor's case "comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law."

  • "For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release," he added, vowing to work to bring them home.

What to watch: Spavor can appeal the court's decision, but it's rare for such judgments to be overturned in China.

The bottom line: His "fate could rest on deal-making among Beijing, Ottawa and Washington at a time when Beijing's relations with Western powers are particularly tense," the New York Times notes.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Huawei executive reaches deal with Justice Department

Meng Wanzhou exits her home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Sept. 24, 2021. Photo: Jimmy Jeong/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the Justice Department that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China, AP reports.

Why it matters: The deal settles a yearslong dispute involving the U.S., China and Canada, where Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, has remained since her arrest there in December 2018, per AP.

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.