Beijing had earlier vowed "grave consequences" for Canada if the Huawei executive was not released. Meng has since been released on bail, but is required to remain in Vancouver, living in her family’s six-bedroom mansion while awaiting an extradition hearing in February.
Spavor, who runs a nongovernmental organization (NGO) called Paektu Cultural Exchange, out of Dandong, is a longtime prominent consultant on North Korea, facilitating business and sports delegations in the reclusive state. He is among just a handful of foreigners who have met with Kim Jong Un inside the country.
Spavor famously organized many of former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s trips into North Korea, including one when Rodman claimed he went jet-skiing with the North Korean leader in 2013. Spavor acted as Rodman’s translator on those trips.
Lu said earlier in the week that former diplomat Kovrig's current employer, The International Crisis Group, was not officially registered in China, making any of their work illegal in the country, violating a new foreign NGO law China put in place just over a year ago.
The law stipulates that in addition to registering with the government, the NGO “must not endanger China’s national unity, security, or ethnic unity.”
According to the Ministry of Public Security, which maintains a list of registered NGOs in China, Spavor’s organization was not included.
Lu said on Thursday that Canada has been informed of the detentions, but would not say if the men have access to lawyers.
When asked if detentions were in any way related to Meng’s arrest in Canada, Lu would only say it was all being handled according to Chinese law.