Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges have been released from prison and flown out of the country hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the US.
Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in China in December 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a US extradition request. Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics.”
The deal with Meng calls for the US Justice Department to dismiss fraud charges late next year in exchange for Meng accepting responsibility for misrepresenting her company’s business dealings in Iran.
Canadian Prime Minister JustinTrudeau called a news conference on Friday to announce the release of Kovrig and Spavor about an hour after Meng’s plane left Canada for China.
The arrangement with Meng, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, resolves a years-long legal and geopolitical tussle that involved not only the US and China but also Canada, where Meng has remained since she was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018.
The deal was reached as President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have sought to tamp down signs of public tension — even as the world’s two dominant economies are at odds on issues as diverse as cybersecurity, climate change, human rights and trade and tariffs.
Mr Biden said in an address before the UN General Assembly earlier this week that he had no intention of starting a “new Cold War,” while Mr Xi told world leaders that disputes among countries “need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation”.