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China Investigating Canadian Couple Over Suspected Theft of State Secrets

RIA Novosti

13:23 05/08/2014

MOSCOW, August 5 (RIA Novosti) - The State Security Bureau of Dandong, a city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, is currently investigating the case of two Canadian nationals suspected of theft of state secrets related to military and national defense research, Xinhua news agency reported.

Simeon Garratt, son of Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, the couple accused, described his parents as "pretty regular people [who] don't have any ties to military or even governments or even anything like that," when contacted by BBC News. He shared his opinion on the charges admitting, "I thought it was absurd. It makes absolutely no sense."

Xinhua was the first to name the suspects in question, Kevin and Julia Garratt. Its report did not say whether the couple was currently detained. Simeon announced that his parents had their cell phones turned off and have been unreachable since Monday night. According to Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail, the couple from Vancouver has been living in China since 1984. Authorities have tried calling the couple's western-style coffee shop on the China-North Korea border, Peter's Coffee House, to no avail.

'Our consular officials stand ready to provide assistance as required,' Canadian Embassy spokeswoman Mary Anne Dehler said in response to the situation.

Last week, Chinese hackers were singled out for attacking a key computer network in Canada, an occurrence some suggest is related to the Garrats' accusation. China's Foreign Ministry was displeased with this allegation, asking Canada to withdraw the 'groundless' accusation.

China's state secrets law is very broad covering everything from industry data to the exact birth dates of state leaders. The theft of state secrets in severe cases is punishable with life in prison or even the death penalty.

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