Canadian couple detained by China safe but closely watched, says son

Wed Aug 6, 2014 11:41am EDT
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By Ben Blanchard

DANDONG China (Reuters) - A Canadian couple detained in China on suspicion they stole state secrets are safe but under constant guard, according to messages they passed on via the Canadian embassy, their son said on Wednesday.

Kevin and Julia Garratt, who ran a coffee shop on the Chinese border with North Korea, were detained on Monday, their family members have said.

"A Canadian representative has met with both my mother and father for 30 minutes each and they passed on messages saying they are safe and eating well and have a nice place to stay, although they are under constant guard," Peter Garratt told Reuters.

In a separate interview, he said: "It seems so surreal and kind of crazy, like where did this come from?"

The couple, from Vancouver, opened a cafe called Peter's Coffee House in Dandong, an important gateway to reclusive North Korea, in 2008.

Peter Garratt said Chinese authorities who met with him would not tell him where his parents were being held, but that the facility was somewhere in or around Dandong.

The investigation into the Garratts comes a week after Canada took the unusual step of singling out Chinese hackers for attacking a key computer network, lodging a diplomatic protest with Beijing.

It is unusual for foreigners to be charged with violating China's state secrets law - a serious crime that is punishable by life in prison or death in the most severe cases.   Continued...

Peter Garratt, one of the sons of Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt who are being investigated in China for threatening national security, stands outside his parents' coffee shop as he talks to Reuters journalists in Dandong, Liaoning province, August 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Ben Blanchard