China releases 2 Canadians after Canada frees Huawei executive post deal with US

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R)

Ottawa [Canada], September 25 (ANI): Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested in China nearly three years ago have been released and are on a flight back home, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced.

Trudeau announced on Friday (local time) that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, also known as the 'two Michaels' were returning home, after being released from a Chinese jail, Japan Times reported.

The development comes after Huawei Technologies chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was being held in Vancouver resolved the criminal fraud charges against her in a deal with the US Justice Department. The US had sought to extradite Meng from Canada on charges of fraud.

At a federal court hearing in Brooklyn, US, which was attended by Meng through video, the US Justice Department reached an agreement that cleared the way for Meng, to return to China in exchange for admitting wrongdoing in a fraud case, according to the New York Times.

A Canadian judge announced on Friday, the release of Meng who was arrested in December 2018 at the request of the US.

Meanwhile, Canadian broadcaster CBS cited Trudeau to report that Spavor and Kovrig boarded their flight about 7:30 p.m (eastern time). They are being accompanied by Dominic Barton, Canada's ambassador to China.

"These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal," Trudeau said in Ottawa. "For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace," the Canadian PM was quoted by CBC.

The US Secretary of Statement Antony Blinken in a statement welcomed the China release of Kovrig and Spavor after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention.

In a statement, Blinken said: "The US Government stands with the international community in welcoming the decision by People's Republic of China authorities to release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention. We are pleased that they are returning home to Canada.

Chinese state media Xinhua reported that "Through unremitting efforts of the Chinese government, Meng Wanzhou has already left Canada, on 24 September local time, on a charter flight organized by the Chinese government. She will soon return to her home country and reunite with her family."

Last month, Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Chinese court in Liaoning Province, on charges of espionage.

China detained Spavor in December 2018, a few days after Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou's arrest in Vancouver. Kovrig who was detained with Sparvor is also awaiting a verdict following his trial, which ended in March.

Spavor was supposed to be deported, but it was not clear when. Earlier, the local court also announced 50,000 yuan of Spavor's personal assets will be confiscated.

In August, Canadian PM Trudeau in a statement said, "China's conviction and sentencing of Michael Spavor is absolutely unacceptable and unjust. The verdict for Mr Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law."

"For Mr Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible," Trudeau added.

Canadian nationals - former diplomat Kovrig and businessman Spavor, were in Chinese detention on espionage charges. Ottawa, however, maintained that these were retaliatory measures for Canada's detention of Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Vancouver in 2018 at the request of the United States. (ANI)

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