The two Michaels are on their way home to Canada.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are back in Canada after being detained in China for nearly three years.

Trudeau told a news conference Friday night on Parliament Hill that Kovrig and Spavor, who have become known in Canada and around the world as the “two Michaels,” were on a plane leaving China, accompanied by Canadian Ambassador Dominic Barton.

“We have worked tirelessly for the past two and a half years to bring them home,” he said.

“I know Canadians are very happy that these two citizens we have thought of so many times in the last 1,000 days are now on their way home.”

The news came hours after Chinese telecoms executive Meng Wanzhou was released from a British Columbia Supreme Court when a judge accepted a discharge order that dropped a US extradition request against her.

The Huawei executive was originally detained in Vancouver in December 2018 at the behest of the US, where a 13-count grand jury indictment indicted the company and Meng, the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, of misrepresenting its ownership of Hong Kong-based companies. subsidiary Skycom between 2007 and 2017 to circumvent US sanctions against Iran.

Meng’s firing followed a virtual appearance in a New York court where he pleaded not guilty to all charges and the judge signed a deferred prosecution agreement.

China has publicly maintained that there was no connection between its case and the two Michaels’ imprisonment, but had also left general indications that if allowed to go free, it could benefit the two Canadians.

Assistant United States Attorney David Kessler told the New York court that the settlement would allow the charges against Meng to be dismissed after December 1, 2022, four years from the date of his arrest, provided he fulfilled all of his obligations. under the terms of the deal.

“In case the offices pursue the prosecution that is deferred by this agreement, Meng stipulates the admissibility of the statement of the facts … in any process against him,” he said.

“Meng further agrees that she and her attorneys, and representatives authorized to speak on her behalf, will not make any statement after the signing of this agreement that may contradict any of the facts in the statement of fact.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are back in Canada after being detained in China for nearly three years. #cdnpoli

The United States’ statement of fact details the gist of the allegations against Meng, essentially, that it portrayed Skycom, which operated primarily in Iran, as a separate and distinct business partner when, for all intents and purposes, it was a wholly owned subsidiary. .

“As Meng knew, Skycom was not a business partner of Huawei or a third party working with Huawei,” the document says. “Instead, Huawei controlled Skycom and the Skycom employees were actually Huawei employees.”

Huawei and Skycom were also charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and violation of the US International Emergency Economic Powers Act, The Sanctions Act. The status of those charges remains unclear.

A statement from the Canadian Department of Justice after the hearing in the United States said there was no longer any basis for the extradition proceedings against him.

“Meng Wanzhou is free to leave Canada,” the statement said. “Meng Wanzhou was given a fair trial in court according to Canadian law. This speaks to the independence of Canada’s judicial system.”

Meng appeared in person at the British Columbia Supreme Court on Friday afternoon, where Deputy Chief Justice Heather Holmes signed the order to release her, vacate the conditions of her bail and officially close the Canadian case against her.

“You have been cooperative and courteous throughout the entire process and the court appreciates you and thanks you for that,” Holmes told Meng.

“Thank you, my lady,” Meng replied.

In a statement outside of court, Meng thanked the judge, Crown attorneys and the Canadian people for their tolerance.

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” he said.

Meng also noted how her life has been turned “upside down” by the case. He said he appreciated the court for its professionalism and the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law.

“It was a disturbing time for me as a mother, wife and company executive,” Meng said. “But I think every cloud has a silver lining. It really was an invaluable experience in my life. The greater the difficulty, the greater the growth.”

The arrest of the Huawei executive three years ago saw Canada-China relations deteriorate and a cascade of effects, including the arrest of the two Canadians.

Kovrig is a Canadian diplomat licensed to the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental peacebuilding organization. Spavor is an entrepreneur who tried to forge people and business ties with North Korea. They were arrested on December 10, 2018.

Earlier this year, Kovrig and Spavor were convicted of espionage in closed Chinese courts, a process that Canada and dozens of allies said amounts to arbitrary detention on trumped-up charges in a closed justice system without accountability.

Spavor received an 11-year sentence, while Kovrig had not yet been sentenced.

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 24, 2021.

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