TORONTO – China’s official news agency says a Canadian who was detained more than a year ago has been indicted on accusations of spying for Canada and stealing Chinese state secrets.
Xinhua says Kevin Garratt was indicted by prosecutors in Dandong city, near China’s border with North Korea, where the former Vancouver man and his wife ran a popular coffee shop and conducted Christian aid work.
Garratt and his wife Julia — who have lived in China for 30 years — were arrested in August 2014. Julia was released on bail in February 2015.
The Xinhua report says that during an investigation Chinese authorities found evidence that implicates Garratt in accepting tasks from “Canadian espionage agencies to gather intelligence in China.”
Their son, Simeon Garratt, who lives in Vancouver, has denied his parents were involved in espionage.
The accusations against the couple in August 2014 came about a week after Canada accused a China-sponsored hacker of infiltrating Canada’s National Research Council, the country’s top research and development organization.
Xinhua said the Garratt case will be tried at the Dandong Intermediate People’s Court.
In Ottawa, a spokesman for the federal government said in a statement that Canada finds the indictment “concerning” and says it remains in contact with Chinese authorities.
Conservative MP Tony Clement issued a statement expressing concern that the indictment may be part of a broader Chinese crackdown on international non-governmental workers based in China.
There was other news this week involving westerners accused of “criminal activity” in China.
The Chinese government deported a Swedish man it accused of training and funding unlicensed lawyers in China, after he made a confession that was broadcast on state television. A Swedish Embassy spokesman confirmed Tuesday that Peter Dahlin had left China.
Dahlin is the co-founder of China Urgent Action Working Group. He was seen on state broadcaster CCTV last week confessing to helping unlicensed lawyers take on cases against the government.
–With Files from The Associated Press