Chinese officials detain Canadian couple for suspected spying
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - 01:52
A Canadian couple is being investigated for espionage by Chinese officials. Julie Noce reports.
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Canadian citizen Peter Garatt peers into the window of his parents shuttered coffee shop in Dandong City, China.
His parents Kevin and Julia Garratt are under investigation by Chinese authorities for espionage.
Peter says he's confident the investigation will reveal his parents innocence.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SON OF DETAINED CANADIAN CITIZENS AND OWNERS OF PETER'S COFFEE HOUSE, PETER GARRATT, SAYING:
"Honestly I don't know what to think because it seems so like surreal and kind of crazy, like where did this come from? I know the Chinese government, I guess they want to do everything to protect their people and so they started this investigation, but right now all it is is an investigation. As far as I know there's no evidence or anything that even points towards that, so where this investigation came from or how it came about I have no idea."
Canadian media say the couple, seen here with their children, had been living in China since 1984. They opened the coffee shop in Dandong, which lies on the boarder with North Korea, in 2008.
According to information on the website of a Canadian church, Kevin Garratt ran a Christian prayer and training facility outside Dandong that was frequented by North Koreans.
Religious activities along the border have angered North Korea officials in the past, although Chinese officials did not mention religion when they announced the investigation earlier this week.
During a visit to Hong Kong Wednesday Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said religious freedom is central to the country's foreign policy.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER, JOHN BAIRD, SAYING:
"Celebrating religious freedom and promoting religious freedom is become a centre of our foreign policy. Where people of different faiths can live together in peace and harmony. "
Peter Garratt told Reuters that his parents ran an aid organisation for North Koreans and were not involved in any missionary work.
The investigation comes less than a week after Canada accused Chinese hackers of breaking into a key computer network, the first time it has ever singled out China for such a security breach. Beijing dismissed the allegations as "irresponsible."
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