By John Ruwitch and Michael Martina
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – A former Canadian diplomat has been detained in China, two sources said on Tuesday, and his current employer, the International Crisis Group, said it was seeking his prompt and safe release.
Michael Kovrig’s detention comes after police in Canada arrested the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities, a move that infuriated Beijing.
It was not immediately clear if the cases were related, but the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver has stoked fears of reprisals against the foreign business community in China.
“International Crisis Group is aware of reports that its North East Asia Senior Adviser, Michael Kovrig, has been detained in China,” the think-tank said in a statement.
“We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael’s whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release,” it added.
China’s Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Public Security did not respond immediately to questions faxed earlier about Kovrig’s detention.
The exact reason for the detention was not immediately clear.
The Canadian embassy declined to comment, referring queries to Ottawa.
Calls to Kovrig’s phones were not answered.
Kovrig, a Mandarin speaker, has been working as a full-time expert for the International Crisis Group since February 2017.
From 2003 to 2016, he worked as a diplomat with stints in Beijing and Hong Kong, among others, according to his profile on LinkedIn.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI and Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; editing by Darren Schuettler)