Canada, Dozens of Allies, Declare Arbitrary Detentions Immoral Amid Kovrig, Spavor

OTTAWA—Canada and a coalition of 57 other countries offered vocal support Monday for a new international declaration denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes. The new declaration was born out of a year of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, spearheaded by former foreign affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, and was the result of a campaign to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who spent their 798th day in Chinese prisons on Monday. While ending Kovrig’s and Spavor’s Chinese imprisonment remains Canada’s top priority, the new declaration was meant to be a broad denunciation to also end the coercive practice in other countries, such as Russia, Iran and North Korea. In an interview, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau wouldn’t name specific countries, saying the new declaration is “country-agnostic.” He said he wants to recruit more countries as signatories with the goal of ending the practice everywhere and to discourage other countries from …

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