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#MichaelKovrig & #MichaelSpavor have been formally arrested after 150+ days in detention (specifically #RSDL). A thread explaining a bit about what this means and why there are still so many things that we don't know (and likely will not know anytime soon). 1/
There is often confusion in English b/c, well, #Kovrig & #Spavor have been locked up for 5+ months, which looks like an "arrest." But "arrest" here is "逮捕" -- a specific procedure that goes through prosecutors (aka the procuratorate or procuracy). 2/
This means the cases are still in the investigation phase but now the prosecutors are directly involved as well as the public security forces. In garden-variety cases, Chinese prosecutors sometimes disagree with police (though very rarely in public). Do NOT expect that here. 3/
Kovrig's and Spavor's fates are in the hands of powers far above the prosecutors who are officially assigned to their cases. On the surface, the process is following the Criminal Procedure Law. But there is no doubt that people much higher up are really calling the shots. 4/
The next stage is for the investigation to continue, which could stretch on for many months, especially because of the severity of the allegations (state secrets). But we only know sketchy details of the allegations. There is no indictment with particulars (as far as we know). 5/
#MichaelKovrig is suspected of "为境外刺探国家秘密和情报犯罪" - crime of gathering state secrets and intelligence for an entity outside China. This appears in Article 111 of the Criminal Law (though I haven't seen the gov't cite the CL directly). 6/
#MichaelSpavor's alleged crimes also appear to be from CL art. 111 but are slightly different: he is suspected of "为境外窃取、非法提供国家秘密犯罪" - crime of stealing and providing state secrets for an entity outside China. 7/
If they are indeed charged & convicted under CL art. 111 (if charged...they will almost certainly be convicted of something), the possible sentence ranges from no prison time to decades behind bars (China has very limited use of life without parole). 8/
Art. 113 allows the #DeathPenalty in extremely serious cases involving state secrets ("对国家和人民危害特别严重、情节特别恶劣的,可以判处死刑"), but I've heard no mention that this is on the table. It's possible, but it's premature to speculate if PRC gov't is considering it. 9/
Arrest means transfer to a detention facility, but conditions can still be extremely harsh (see @Peterinexile & this by @taniabranigan). I have not seen a statement regarding where they will be held. Nor will we have a window into their daily lives. 10/
While consular visits should continue, Kovrig & Spavor can still be blocked from actually speaking with lawyers. B/c these are state security cases, the gov't must give permission (CPL art. 39, "危害国家安全犯罪...在侦查期间辩护律师会见在押的犯罪嫌疑人,应当经侦查机关许可") 11/
In short, just by following the formal law to a T, Kovrig's & Spavor's cases could stretch on for many months before even reaching a court & the details can remain largely opaque. For now, we can only hope that Canadian diplomats working behind the scenes are able to help.12/end
Addendum: Anyone interested in #MichaelKovrig #MichaelSpavor & really anything involving law & #China should be following @ChinaLawTransl8 (& subscribing to its excellent website)
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