Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have finally arrived home in Canada after almost three years of arbitrary detention in Chinese prisons.
The two Canadians boarded a plane Friday night with Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton. On Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted the pair in Calgary upon landing.
“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal. For the past 1000 days they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience, and grace, and we are all inspired by them,” said Trudeau.
Trudeau announced their release just hours after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was taken off of house arrest in Vancouver and permitted to go back to China.
The deal was a result of negotiations between the US Justice Department and prosecutors who agreed to drop charges against the Chinese heiress once accused of several wire fraud charges related to her company’s dealings with Iran which is under strict sanctions by US authorities.
Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were arrested on espionage charges in 2018 by Chinese Communist Party authorities in a move that is widely believed to have been in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng on a US warrant.
Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison for trumped-up espionage charges, and a sentence had yet to be issued for Kovrig who was also accused of similar crimes.
China continues to maintain that the arrests of the two Michaels were unrelated to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou despite the fact that their release occurred just hours after Meng secured her deal with the US.
Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole also congratulated the pair on their release following the announcement on his personal Twitter account.
“Our family shares the elation of millions of Canadians that our citizens are coming home. Thank you to all diplomats involved,” said O’Toole.