Canadians detained in China now on way home, Trudeau announces

Toronto, Canada, Sep 24 (EFE).- Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians detained in China since December 2018 and accused of espionage, are on their way home, Canada’s prime minister announced on Friday.

The two were detained days after the arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, who was also freed by Canada and on her way back to China on Friday. She reached a deal with United States prosecutors who had accused her of bank fraud to evade sanctions imposed by Washington on Iran.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a press conference in Ottawa late Friday that the “two Michaels,” as they are popularly known in the country, were released by the Chinese authorities and were already on their way to Canada.

“For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace,” Trudeau said, adding that the men had been through “an unbelievably difficult ordeal.”

Although the plane carrying the two Michaels departed from China for Canada around 7.30 pm Ottawa time on Friday, the prime minister only reported their release 12 minutes after the aircraft had left Chinese airspace. They are due to arrive in Canada early on Saturday.

In August, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor, a businessman specializing in trade with North Korea, to 11 years in prison for espionage. A decision had yet to be made in the case of Kovrig, a former diplomat who was in China working for the International Crisis Group think tank at the time of his arrest.

About the same time that Trudeau revealed the release of Spavor and Kovrig, the Canadian public broadcaster reported that Meng had left the country in a private plane.

Meng, who was out on bail in Vancouver since December 2018 and had been living with her family in one of the two mansions that she owns in the Canadian city, was released on Friday after the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada signed an order to end extradition proceedings against her.

Earlier, Meng and Huawei reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the US authorities, which automatically suspended the extradition process started in Canada in 2018.

During a press conference outside the Supreme Court of British Columbia following her release, a smiling Meng thanked the judge on her case, Heather Holmes, and the Canadian government for their “professionalism” and upholding “the rule of law.”

Meng, who read a statement and did not accept questions from the media, said that the last three years her life “was a disruptive time for me as a mother, a wife and a company executive” but added that it was an “invaluable experience.”

The release of Meng, Spavor and Kovrig puts an end to one of the most serious diplomatic rifts between Canada and China. EFE


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