Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said two Canadian nationals have been released in China and are on their way home. At the same time, Canada allowed a Chinese trader to escape house arrest and return home.
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Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have “left Chinese airspace and are on their way back” and will arrive on Saturday, Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa.
The news came shortly after Huawei chief Meng Wanzhou, who had been under house arrest in Canada for nearly three years, was released on Friday and sent back to China.
Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China in December 2018. This happened shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Meng, due to an extradition request from the United States.
In August, Spavor was found guilty of spying and unlawfully sharing state secrets. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in Dandong City. Former diplomat Kovrig has also been charged with similar offences.
The cases have led to a very strained relationship between Canada and China. They both took place behind closed doors, and Canadians expressed serious concerns about the lack of transparency.
Already left Canada
Meng Wanzhou left Canada shortly after being released from house arrest. Television footage showed her on board an Air China plane.
On Friday, the extradition case against Meng was closed and a court ordered the release of bail conditions.
– I signed the release order, Judge Heather Holmes said during the short trial.
The decision came after Meng reached an agreement with US prosecutors to avoid being charged with fraud.
Meng spent nearly three years under house arrest in Vancouver. Outside the city’s courthouse, Meng thanked the judge, his supporters, Chinese authorities and even Canadian authorities for “upholding the law.”
Spy accused of Canadian sentenced to 11 years in prison in China
– In the past three years, my life has been turned upside down. It was an outrageous time for me as a mother, wife and leader, Meng said, adding:
– I think behind the clouds the sky is blue. It was an invaluable experience in my life. And as the saying goes, its greatest resistance, its greatest growth.
Agreement in place with the United States earlier today
Earlier Friday, a hearing on Meng’s case was held in New York. Here, the US Department of Justice said it had reached an agreement with her.
Meng agreed not to challenge the US authorities’ presentation of certain facts described in an as-yet-unpublished document.
If she sticks to the deal, the fraud allegations will be dropped. In the same agreement, the United States withdrew its extradition request, allowing Meng to return to China.