Trudeau 'disappointed' China has charged two Canadians

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured January 9, 2020, in Ottawa, called on Beijing to send home the pair

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he was "disappointed" that China formally charged two Canadians with spying and renewed calls for their release.

Trudeau called on Beijing to send home the pair, former diplomat diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.

"I am of course disappointed with the decision ... taken by the Chinese in the case of the two Michaels," he told a news conference.

Kovrig and Spavor were detained nine days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on a US warrant, in what is widely believed to have been a retaliatory move from China.

The spying charges against them come just weeks after a key ruling in the Meng case that proceedings to extradite her to the United States will go ahead.

The United States wants Meng extradited to face trial on fraud charges related to the Chinese telecom equipment maker's alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

Trudeau said Chinese authorities have "directly linked the case of the two Michaels to the judicial proceedings against Miss Meng."

He called this "extremely disappointing because, for us, there obviously are no links, except in politics."

Trudeau vowed to continue to "put pressure on the Chinese government to cease the arbitrary detention of these two Canadian citizens who are being held for no other reason than (that) the Chinese government is disappointed with the independent proceedings of the Canadian judiciary."

He Ottawa's allies and friends around the world "are equally concerned with this arbitrary detention."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured January 9, 2020, in Ottawa, called on Beijing to send home the pair