Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig returned from China to their homeland on Saturday, reported Canadian TV CTV. From December 2018, the men were imprisoned by Chinese authorities on suspicion of espionage. They were released only after their release from house arrest in Canada, vice president of the Chinese company Huawei, Meng Wanzhou.
Spavor and Kovrig arrived on a Saturday morning local time at Calgary Airport on a Canadian Air Force plane. During the flight, they were accompanied by the Canadian Ambassador to Beijing, Dominic Barton, and at the airport, they were welcomed by the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau on Friday reported the release of the men from a Chinese prison. As reported by CTV, he did so only when the plane with Spaver and Kovrig on board left Chinese airspace.
Extradition of the vice president of Huawei
Earlier, a court in Vancouver ended extradition proceedings against the vice president of the Chinese company Huawei Meng Wanzhou. The woman was detained in Canada in December 2018 at the request of US authorities. Since then, she has been under house arrest. US prosecutors accused her of financial fraud, which could also lead to a breach of sanctions against Iran. On Friday, a New York court approved a conditional suspension of extradition proceedings after the parties agreed.
The plane carrying two Canadians from China took off almost at the same time as the machine carrying Meng to China took off, reports CTV.
Canadians accused of espionage
Entrepreneur Spavor and former diplomat Kovrig working for an NGO were detained in China days after Meng’s arrest at Vancouver Airport. Both were tried this year for alleged espionage: Spavor has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, Kovrig’s case has not yet been issued
The Chinese authorities maintained that there was no connection between the Canadians and Meng’s detention, but they made it clear that releasing Huawei’s vice president would also help Spavor and Kovrig, CTV notes.
The agreement between prosecutors from the US Ministry of Justice and Huawei’s lawyers, which was the basis for Meng’s dismissal, was preceded by weeks of negotiations, in which representatives of the Canadian government also participated, according to television.
Main photo source: Reuters