Huawei Heiress To Be Freed After Deal With US

New Delhi: Two Canadian men, who were detained in China since 2018 on accusations of espionage, were freed Friday, hours after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou left the North American country after striking a deal with US prosecutors.

Time in Canada was disruptive, but it was an "invaluable experience," said Huawei's Meng Wanzhou before she left Canada for her home country. #GLOBALink pic.twitter.com/UpOe0Cf2aO

— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) September 25, 2021

Wanzhou, the eldest daughter of tech giant Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei and the chief financial officer of the company, was arrested by authorities in Canada’s Vancouver on a US warrant in 2018.

The two Canadian men are Michael Kovrig, 49, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, 43, an entrepreneur. They were accompanied by Canadian ambassador Dominic Barton on their return home.

The ‘two Michaels’, as they came to be known, were released by Chinese authorities without any legal reason provided, reported The Guardian.

“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal…For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace, and we are all inspired by that,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.

Though China has publicly maintained that there is no correlation between the cases, media reports have alluded that this may have been a ‘prisoner swap’. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson had also said last year that releasing Meng could “open up space for a resolution to the situation of the two Canadians”.

One big difference between the two cases, however, is that Kovrig and Spavor maintained their innocent throughout, while Meng was released in exchange for admitting wrongdoing in a fraud case.

Meng’s deal with US prosecutors

On Friday, the US Justice Department reached an agreement that allowed Meng to return to China in exchange for admitting wrongdoing. She confessed to misleading US investigators about her role in payments over business in Iran.

The deal was a deferred prosecution agreement, which means federal prosecutors will postpone her case and are expected to ultimately drop charges by 1 December 2022.

Meng was arrested by Canadian police on 1 December 2018. This was done on the request of the US, which asked for her extradition on charges of violating US sanctions.

Meng’s arrest occurred on the same night that former US President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping dined together in Argentina and agreed to a trade truce, noted a report in The New York Times.

In January 2019, the US Justice Department indicted Meng and Huawei, accusing both of misrepresenting ownership of Hong Kong-based subsidiary Skycom in the ten-year period from 2007 to 2017, in order to sidestep American sanctions on Iran.

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‘Political win’ for Trudeau

The release of the ‘two Michaels’ is being seen as a “political win” for Trudeau, who had been criticised during the recent Canadian national election over his handling of relations with China.

Days after Meng’s arrest in Canada in 2018, Kovrig and Spavor were nabbed by Chinese authorities. For three years, they were kept at secret detention sites in China and their trials were also held behind closed doors. Beijing was criticised by the West for using the men as “bargaining chips“.

Spavor, a businessman, was accused of supplying intelligence to Kovrig, a former diplomat-turned-analyst for the International Crisis Group. Spavor, who lived in Dandong near the China-North Korea border, worked for Paektu Cultural Exchange, a firm that facilitates cultural exchanges with North Korea.

In August this year, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison, while Kovrig’s verdict, following a secret trial in March, was yet to be announced. Trudeau had called the conviction against Spavor “unacceptable and unjust” at the time.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

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Source : https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/china-releases-2-canadians-in-apparent-prisoner-swap-hours-after-huawei-heiress-is-freed/ar-AAOOhWd

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Filed Under: MSN
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