Michael Kovrig, the Canadian ex-diplomat detained in China on suspicion of endangering the country’s national security, is being held in a secret location where he’s being questioned three times a day and can’t turn off a light before he goes to sleep at night, reports said Thursday.
Kovrig hasn’t been granted access to a lawyer and he’s had a single visit with Canada’s ambassador to China, the reports added.
Coverage of Michael Kovrig on Globalnews.ca:
The reports have provided some of the earliest insight into the conditions in which Kovrig has been held following his detainment amid the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver earlier this month.
Bloomberg spoke to a person “familiar with the situation” who said Kovrig has only been allowed a single consular visit each month.
So far, he’s met with Canadian Ambassador John McCallum in Beijing once, at which he appeared stressed but unhurt.
The Financial Times reported similar conditions where Kovrig is being detained.
The newspaper said he was arrested outside his home on Dec. 10, and that Chinese authorities alerted the Canadian embassy of his detainment two days later.
Kovrig has visited with three Canadian diplomats, including the ambassador, the newspaper added.
WATCH: U.S. calls for release of Canadians detained in China
His condition was described as “tired and stressed” but “physically OK.”
It’s common in China for people accused of crimes relating to national security to be denied visits with a lawyer, the Times added.
Earlier this month, Guy Saint-Jacques, a former ambassador to China with whom Kovrig worked between 2012 and 2016, provided Global News with some insight into the conditions under which people are held in the country.
He talked about Julia and Kevin Garratt, Canadians who were detained there and accused of being spies in 2014.
Like Kevin Garratt, Kovrig could find himself deprived of sleep if authorities try to force him to confess to wrongdoing.
“They try to break people, that’s what happened to Kevin Garratt unfortunately,” Saint-Jacques said.
Julia Garratt spoke to Global News following Kovrig’s arrest and described the experience as “very traumatic.”
“Your body starts to go into shock,” she said.
“Your mind is just thinking about your children and your family and wondering: ‘they’re not going to know where I am.'”
The European Union (EU) has spoken up on both Kovrig and Michael Spavor’s cases.
The latter is another Canadian who was detained following Meng’s arrest.
In a statement issued Thursday, the EU said 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.”
As Kovrig is a dual Canadian-Hungarian national, the EU may step in on his case, sources told Reuters.
But, as he was in China on a Canadian passport, it seems less likely that Hungarian diplomats will become involved.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has also forged close ties with China and hasn’t stepped up to criticize the country.
- With files from Sam Cooper, Rebecca Joseph, Nick Logan, Reuters and The Associated Press