Kevin Garratt, a Canadian national, has been charged with stealing state secrets in China, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday. Garratt and his wife were detained in 2014 in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong. His wife, Julia, was reportedly released on bail in February last year.
Garratt was indicted in Dandong in China's Liaoning Province and the case will be tried in the Dandong Intermediate People's Court, Xinhua reported. During the investigation, Chinese authorities reportedly found evidence that suggested Garratt was accepting tasks from Canadian espionage agencies to collect more information about the communist country.
Garratt and his wife ran a coffee shop in Dandong and had been sending humanitarian aid to North Korea to help the residents of the impoverished country, Agence France-Presse reported. They were arrested in August 2014, a week after Canada accused China of hacking into its main computer network. Canada has alleged that the arrest was in retaliation for accusations against Beijing.
Francois Lasalle, a spokesman for the Canadian foreign ministry, said: “The Government of Canada has raised this case with the Chinese Government at high levels. ... We remain in contact with Chinese authorities and the family, and are monitoring developments closely,” BBC reported.
Garratt’s indictment follows the detention and deportation of Swedish human rights activist Peter Dahlin three weeks ago by Chinese authorities after he reportedly confessed on a state-run news network. Beijing said at the time that his arrest was part of an operation to “smash” an “illegal organization that sponsored activities jeopardizing China’s national security,” the South China Morning Post reported. The 35-year-old Dahlin had co-founded the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, which provided legal assistance.
In September, China also detained two Japanese nationals on suspicion of spying, prompting protest from Japan.