A Canadian businessman who was said to be missing has been arrested in China on suspicion of harming state security, Beijing has confirmed.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reports on Thursday that Michael Spavor had been arrested, following widespread speculation about his whereabouts.
His detention comes just two days after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was arrested for similar charges related to threatening state security. Both cases are currently under investigation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Spavor, who heads a company that brings tourists and athletes to North Korea and is one of the few westerners to have met the Hermit Kingdom’s leader, disappeared shortly after informing Canadian officials that he had been questioned by Chinese authorities.
Social media posts show that Spavor’s friends began to worry about him after he failed to arrive in Seoul on Monday to attend a conference – meaning that he could have been detained on the same day as Kovrig.
Spavor and Kovrig are said to know each other, The Globe and Mail reported.
Kovrig and Spavor’s detentions have been characterized as retaliatory measures taken by Beijing in the wake of Canada’s arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou last week.
Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei, was arrested at the request of the US government and is accused of violating sanctions on Iran. She was granted bail on Tuesday while she awaits a court hearing on her possible extradition to the US.