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EU calls for access to legal representation for Canadians detained in China

WATCH: Canada has found itself caught between two superpowers since arresting Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Possibly up to three Canadian citizens in China appear to have been detained. Mercedes Stephenson spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to find what he's doing to try to free those Canadians.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians being currently detained in China, are being denied access to legal representation, a spokesperson from the European Union tells Global News.

“The arrest and detention in China of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both Canadian nationals, and the declared motive for their investigation raises concerns about legitimate research and business practices in China,” a statement from the EU reads.

“The denial of access to a lawyer under their status of detention is contrary to the right of defence. The EU fully supports the efforts of the Canadian Government on this matter.”

The EU has previously expressed support for Canada in this matter, along with the United States, and has before called for legal representation for the detainees.

“The arrest and detention in China of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both Canadian nationals, and the declared motive for their investigation raises concerns about legitimate research and business practices in China,” the EU embassy in Beijing said in a separate statement to Reuters

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READ MORE: Canada’s ambassador to China meets with second detained Canadian Michael Spavor

“The denial of access to a lawyer under their status of detention is contrary to the right of defense. The EU fully supports the efforts of the Canadian Government on this matter.”

The detentions of the two Canadian men last week appeared to be retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei.

Kovrig and Spavor were picked up in China days after the RCMP arrested Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities. American authorities are seeking Meng’s extradition to the U.S. to face charges of fraud and violating trade sanctions against Iran.

According to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum has been able to meet with Kovrig and Spavor within the past week.

“It’s important to Canada that we were able to see them. We know where they are,” Freeland told reporters on Monday. “We are really throwing everything we have at this.”

Two days later, it was revealed that a third Canadian had been detained in China.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed to Global News that consular officials have been in touch with the third detainee, and that there is likely no connection between this case and the previous two.

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READ MORE: Detained Canadian in China also a Hungarian national — and now the EU may step in: Reuters

“By way of an update on the case you enquired about yesterday, consular officials have spoken to the Canadian and are providing consular services to her and her family. We have no reason to believe there is any connection between this case and other recent cases of Canadians detained in China for alleged reasons of national security,” spokesperson Richard Walker said in a statement.

A member of parliament recently confirmed that the third detainee is a a teacher from Alberta who was held over visa issues.

Conservative MP Erin O’Toole said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the woman had been teaching in the country for months and did not previously have problems with her visa, Global News previously reported.

WATCH: Growing concerns over three Canadians detained in China

Growing concerns over three Canadians detained in China
Growing concerns over three Canadians detained in China

–With files from Abigail Bimman, Rahul Kalvappale and The Canadian Press.