Two Canadian nationals are back in their home country after spending nearly three years in what the United States and its northern neighbor dubbed an “arbitrary detention” by China.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor landed in Calgary Saturday morning aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft. The “two Michaels” and Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton, who accompanied the men, were met by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau at the airport, according to the CBC.
Kovrig and Spavor were released after the Justice Department agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with Huawei related to the case of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive for the Chinese telecommunications giant.
The Justice Department said Friday that Meng “entered into a deferred prosecution agreement” with the U.S. government and that the administration “agreed to withdraw its request to the Ministry of Justice of Canada that Meng be extradited to the United States.”
Meng was arrested in December 2018 by Canadian authorities at the request of the U.S. She was indicted in federal court in New York in January 2019 and charged with bank fraud and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy, and confined to house arrest.
China subsequently arrested Spavor and Kovrig, who were in custody until their release. Spavor led a business in China that helped promote visits to North Korea, while Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, had been working in the country as an adviser for the International Crisis Group on the matter of relations between China and North Korea.
The Chinese found Spavor guilty of spying and sentenced him to 11 years in prison and deportation. A trial for Kovrig concluded in March, but he had not received a sentence by the time of his release, the report added.
“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” Trudeau said Friday. “For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience, and grace.”
Chinese authorities denied allegations of engaging in hostage diplomacy, saying there was no relation between the two cases, but they alleged mistreatment of Meng.
“It has long been a fully proven fact that this is an incident of political persecution against a Chinese citizen, an act designed to hobble Chinese high-tech companies,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday.
In March, the Federal Communications Commission released an updated list of Chinese communication companies “that have been deemed a threat to national security,” including Huawei. The Commerce Department also added the company to its entity list last December, saying Huawei and its affiliates “engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
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