China promises humane, lawful treatment of detained Canadian

Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:51am EDT
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By Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang promised on Wednesday that a Canadian man held in China for two years on suspicion of spying would be treated humanely and lawfully, but the man's family expressed frustration and called for his release.

China indicted Canadian citizen Kevin Garratt in January on charges of spying and stealing state secrets. He was detained in August 2014 near China's sensitive border with reclusive North Korea.

Asked about Garratt, Li told a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Beijing that China and Canada would continue to communicate on the issue.

"As for the individual case you have raised, I want to say that China is a country with rule of law and our judicial authorities will handle it in strict accordance with the law, and give the relevant case humane treatment," Li said in rare public comments by a top Chinese leader on such a touchy issue.

With Trudeau by his side, Li said China would grant consular access in such cases if they involved foreigners.

"For these cases, the departments of both sides will continue to remain in touch and we believe it's essential for our two countries to remove disturbances and work together to uphold the other interests of China-Canada relations."

Garratt's family said in a statement released by their Beijing-based lawyers they were "extremely frustrated and disappointed" by the lack of progress in securing his release.

The family "implores the Canadian and Chinese leadership to set aside their differences and reach a resolution to allow Kevin to exit China and obtain critically needed medical treatment and to return to his family", they said.   Continued...

A boy looks up as he walks past the closed coffee shop owned by Canadian couple Kevin Garratt and Julia Dawn Garratt in Dandong, Liaoning province, August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ben Blanchard