As first secretary and vice consul at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing from 2014 to 2016, Kovrig speaks Chinese and he travelled around China conducting field research on politics and government policies and meeting with contacts, including dissidents. She has said she is innocent. "And I want to respect this individual and his family".
On Wednesday, Canada's foreign ministry confirmed that Spavor was "presently missing in China".
"We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we continue to raise this with the Chinese government".
The exchange is one of a small group of organizations promoting interactions with North Korea in a manner that has sometimes brought controversy for its unwillingness to criticize the regime's human rights abuses.
"Historically, China was remarkably willing to overlook a great deal of North Korea activity of all kinds. happening on Chinese territory", he said. It says he speaks Korean and French fluently and is learning Chinese. He has assisted former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman in travel to Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
On Monday, China took Kovrig into custody after Beijing warned Ottawa of severe consequences for its recent arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei.
Two Canadian citizens were detained in China recently after Canada seized a Chinese business executive wanted by the US over allegations of deceptive banking practices and breaking sanctions on Iran.
He was very capable and a "very smart guy", who is extremely knowledgeable about China, a former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney, told the Toronto Star. Ottawa, however, doesn't know what the allegations against him are nor does it know where he is, the official said.
China responded in kind, detaining the former Canadian diplomat, who is now a China expert at the International Crisis Group security consultancy.
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"We need one process with them, but in this process, they also need to show us their [development]". Emery was similarly pleased with his return, saying: "Today is another step for him and for us".
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Lankov, who has known Spavor for 10 years, described the Canadian as a likable, easygoing, charismatic man who wasn't much interested in worldwide politics.
Kovrig is thought to be in his late 40s.
"Our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law", the Canadian minister said.
Chinese media say Kovrig was arrested as part of a national security case. His work for the non-governmental organization has covered a range of subjects, including the North Korean nuclear crisis, China's relationship with the US and its expanding presence in Africa.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday that ICG was not registered in China and its employees would be "in violation" of the law if they engage in activities in the country. "But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story", he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.
In a statement earlier this week, Le Yucheng, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, called Meng's arrest "lawless, reasonless and ruthless".
Based on his experience observing past cases, Saint-Jacques said he believes Kovrig is already enduring long interrogations by Chinese authorities. "We have known people who are ready to admit to anything just to get out of there".
"In the Chinese system, once you are officially charged - in 99.9 per cent of the cases you are also found guilty", he said.