Trudeau Reveals Two Canadians Imprisoned in China Have Been Released After Wanzhou Departure
01:09 GMT 25.09.2021 (Updated: 10:03 GMT 25.09.2021)
The two Canadians had been detained by Chinese authorities in 2018, a move that was largely seen as part of a retaliation effort following the arrest of Huawei's Meng Wanzhou. Some referred to the incident as an example of hostage diplomacy.
Two Canadians imprisoned in China for the last three years were released from detention shortly after it was confirmed
that Huawei's Meng Wanzhou was aboard a plane headed back to China late Friday.
The announcement was made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who indicated that Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were expected to arrive in Canada early Saturday after having left Chinese airspace.
“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” Trudeau said in a public address on the development. “It is good news for all of us that they are on their way home to their families.”
Kovrig and Spavor boarded the plane with Dominic Barton, Canada's ambassador to China after having spent over 1,000 days in detention. Korvig had previously served as a diplomat and Spavor was a businessman.
The pair were detained shortly after Wanzhou was arrested in 2018 at the Vancouver International Airport on behalf of the US government, which previously accused her of circumventing US sanctions on Iran years earlier.
Although both Canadians were convicted in China on espionage charges, only Spavor received a prison sentence. Kovrig had not yet been handed a sentence in the matter.
Shortly after Trudeau made the late Friday announcement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement noting that the Biden administration "stands with the international community in welcoming the decision" to release Kovrig and Spavor.