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US Urges Release of Canadians Detained in China  

Residents pass by the Canadian Embassy in Beijing on Friday, June 19, 2020. Chinese prosecutors charged two detained Canadians with spying Friday in an apparent bid to step up pressure on Canada to drop a U.S. extradition request for a Huawei…

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging the immediate release of two Canadians detained by China on allegations of espionage.

In a statement released Monday, Pompeo said the United States was “extremely concerned” about their safety.

"These charges are politically motivated and completely groundless," said Pompeo.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018. China announced the espionage charges against them on Friday.

The two were arrested shortly after Canada detained Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant. China has said that the two incidents are unrelated but some experts believe Kovrig and Spavor are being used as pressure against Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the arrests of the two men “arbitrary.”

Secretary of State Pompeo on Monday also echoed what he said was Canada’s call for immediate consular access to its two citizens, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

“China has prohibited such access for almost six months, and the world has no knowledge of the two Canadians’ condition,” said Pompeo.