After over 1000 days in confinement, China has released detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and they are back in Canada.
Their release follows after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and U.S. Justice Department officials reached a deal to resolve the criminal charges against her and a B.C. judge discharged the extradition matter.
The two Canadians have been in Chinese custody for 1,019 days on espionage charges that were viewed as a retaliatory response to Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant related to the company’s business dealings in Iran. China’s has consistently denied that the cases were in any way connected.
Following the release of Meng the two Michael's, as they are often referred to in Canada, were also released, hence it now appears evident the cases were related.
Both of the Canadians stood trial in China, and Spavor had been issued an 11-year sentence, while Kovrig had not yet been sentenced.
On Friday, after U.S. Justice Department officials reached a deal to resolve the criminal charges against Meng, she was able to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and leave Canada, under certain terms.
Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes signed the order of discharge in Meng's extradition case.
Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and CFO of the company and has been under house arrest in Vancouver since she was first taken into custody at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a U.S. warrant related to the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Facing charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and wire fraud, Meng has claimed her innocence throughout the process, and had been fighting the extradition through Canadian courts.
Meg appeared virtually in a New York courtroom Friday morning and pled "not guilty" to all charges and a U.S. judge signed off on a deferred prosecution agreement.
"Meng made multiple material misrepresentations to a senior executive of a financial institution regarding Huawei’s business operations in Iran in an effort to preserve Huawei’s banking relationship with the financial institution… Meng’s admissions confirm the crux of the government’s allegations in the prosecution of this financial fraud," read the statement, which details at length the agreed statement of facts in the case.
The judge allowed the release of Meng on a personal recognizance bond, with the charges against her set to be dismissed pending good behaviour, as of Dec. 1, 2022, four years to the day when she was taken into custody at Vancouver International Airport in 2018.
Following the ruling in B.C., confirming that the U.S. had dropped its extradition request.
Canada's Department of Justice issued a statement that read, "There is no basis for the extradition proceedings to continue and the Minister of Justice’s delegate has withdrawn the Authority to Proceed, ending the extradition proceedings. The judge released Meng Wanzhou from all of her bail conditions. Meng Wanzhou is free to leave Canada,".
The Michaels were released immediately after.
China’s consistent denials that the cases were related, appear to be less than truthful. Fortunately Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are now safely home.