China confirmed on Thursday that two Canadian citizens suspected of “harming national security” are now in its custody.
Michael Spavor, a businessman who clinked cocktails with Kim Jong-un, was apprehended on Monday in the city of Dandong, Liaoning province.
Spavor joins former diplomat Michael Kovrig, whose news of an arrest in Beijing sent waves of worries in Canada earlier this week.
According to his company website, Spavor worked as a tour guide in North Korea, helping arrange trips such as Dennis Rodman’s visits and basketball matches between former NBA players and the local team.
Spavor, who shared cocktails and jet-skied with Kim himself, praised his experience in a 2017 interview with Reuters.
“That was the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life … We hung out for three days.”
Canadian Global Affairs spokesman Guillaume Bérubé said that officials have been unable to reach Spavor “since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities,” the Associated Press reported.
He added that they are “working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we continue to raise this with the Chinese government.”
In its confirmation, China said that both men are being investigated on suspicion of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security.”
It’s unclear if either Kovrig or Spavor has access to an attorney, but Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang maintained that the “legal rights of the two Canadians are being safeguarded.”
The detainment of both Canadians came after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, whom the U.S. seeks to extradite for allegedly operating SkyCom, a company that sold technology to Iran in violation of trade sanctions.
American authorities allege that Meng committed fraud when she told an HSBC executive that Huawei and SkyCom were two separate entities.
After three days of a hearing, Meng, who reportedly suffers from severe hypertension, was released on a $7.5 million bail on Tuesday night.
According to CNN, the Huawei executive agreed to surrender all her passports, live in one of her Vancouver properties, pay for around-the-clock security detail and wear a GPS ankle bracelet as conditions of her release.
Images via Instagram / Paektu Cultural Exchange