World Canadians home after Huawei CFO resolves US charges
Trudeau's party wins Canada vote but fails to get majority
TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party secured victory in parliamentary elections but failed to get the majority he wanted in a vote that focused on the coronavirus pandemic but that many Canadians saw as unnecessary. Trudeau entered Monday's election leading a stable minority government that wasn’t under threat of being toppled — but he was hoping Canadians would reward him with a majority for navigating the pandemic better than many other leaders.
TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugged two Canadians who landed in Canada on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap involving China, the U.S. and Canada.
Trudeau greeted Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after their plane landed in Calgary, Alberta early Saturday. The men were arrested in China in December 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng on a U.S. extradition request. Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics.”
Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou Could Return to China After Reaching Deal With DOJ
The Justice Department submitted a letter saying it would address "a resolution of the charges against the defendant in this matter" at a hearing.Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer and daughter of the company's founder, has reached a resolution known as a deferred prosecution. In the deal, a defendant must agree to abide by certain conditions in exchange for the Justice Department ultimately dropping the case.
Live footage on CTV's news network showed the two men being hugged by Trudeau on the tarmac in the early morning.
The two left China just after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department over fraud charges and flew from Canada to China.
The chain of events involving the global powers brought an abrupt end to legal and geopolitical wrangling that for the past three years has roiled relations between Washington, Beijing and Ottawa. The three-way deal enabled China and Canada to each bring home their own detained citizens while the U.S. wrapped up a criminal case against a prominent Chinese tech executive that for months had been mired in an extradition fight.
US, long-detained Huawei executive resolve criminal charges
Manzhou has been held in Canada since her arrest in late 2018. Meng appeared by video in Brooklyn federal court where Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kessler said the deferred prosecution agreement expires in December 2022, four years after her arrest by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States.
The first activity came Friday afternoon when Meng Wanzhou, 49, Huawei’s chief finance officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, reached an agreement with federal prosecutors that called for fraud charges against her to be dismissed next year and allowed for her to return to China immediately. As part of the deal, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, she accepted responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business dealings in Iran.
“These two men have been through an unbelievably difficult ordeal. For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance and grace and we are all inspired by that,” Trudeau said a hastily called news conference late Friday night.
News of Meng’s pending return was a top item on the Chinese internet and on state broadcaster CCTV’s midday news report, with no mention made of the release of Kovrig and Spavor.
Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou hailed as hero upon return to China
Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who spent nearly three years in house arrest in Canada, returned home late Saturday, ending a prolonged extradition fight with the United States and sparking an outburst of national pride in China, where her release has been portrayed as a diplomatic victory for Beijing. © Jin Liwang/Xinhua/AP Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou waves as she steps out of an airplane after arriving at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen, China, on September 26.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian reposted on social media a report on Meng having left Canada, adding “Welcome home.”
Video was also circulated online of Meng speaking at Vancouver International Airport, saying; “Thank you motherland, thank you to the people of the motherland. You have been my greatest pillar of support.”
The deal was reached as President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have sought to tamp down signs of public tension — even as the world’s two dominant economies are at odds on issues as diverse as cybersecurity, climate change, human rights and trade and tariffs. Biden said in an address before the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week that he had no intention of starting a “new Cold War,” while Xi told world leaders that disputes among countries “need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation.”
“The U.S. Government stands with the international community in welcoming the decision by People’s Republic of China authorities to release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention. We are pleased that they are returning home to Canada,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
China: 2 Canadians in prisoner swap freed for health reasons
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Two Canadians detained in late 2019 who were allowed to return to Canada in a prisoner swap were released on bail for health reasons, China's Foreign Ministry said Monday. A ministry spokesperson made the comment as Beijing sought to downplay the connection between their release and the return to China of a long-detained executive of Huawei Technologies. Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in December 2019, days after Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities.
As part of the deal with Meng, which was disclosed in federal court in Brooklyn, the Justice Department agreed to dismiss the fraud charges against her in December 2022 — exactly four years after her arrest — provided that she complies with certain conditions, including not contesting any of the government’s factual allegations. The Justice Department also agreed to drop its request that Meng be extradited to the U.S., which she had vigorously challenged, ending a process that prosecutors said could have persisted for months.
After appearing via videoconference for her New York hearing, Meng made a brief court appearance in Vancouver, where she’d been out on bail living in a multimillion-dollar mansion while the two Canadians were held in Chinese prison cells where the lights were kept on 24 hours a day.
Outside the courtroom, Meng thanked the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law, expressed gratitude to the Canadian people and apologized “for the inconvenience I caused.”
“Over the last three years my life has been turned upside down,” she said. “It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, a wife and as a company executive. But I believe every cloud has a silver lining. It really was an invaluable experience in my life. I will never forget all the good wishes I received.”
Jen Psaki claims 'no link' between Huawei CFO's release and China freeing two Canadians
The Biden administration claimed on Monday there was “no link” between the Justice Department agreeing to drop its charges against a Huawei executive held in Canada and China releasing two Canadians that it had taken hostage shortly after her arrest. © Provided by Washington Examiner White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the U.S. decision would incentivize China to engage in further hostage diplomacy, and Psaki attempted to reject this. “I think it’s important to note, that to be very clear about this, there is no link,” Psaki contended. “We have an independent Justice Department.
Shortly afterward, Meng left on an Air China flight for Shenzhen, China, the location of Huawei’s headquarters.
Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a technological world power — and a subject of U.S. security and law enforcement concerns. Some analysts say Chinese companies have flouted international rules and norms and stolen technology.
The case against Meng stems from a January 2019 indictment from the Trump administration Justice Department that accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The indictment also charged Meng herself with committing fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
The indictment came amid a broader Trump administration crackdown against Huawei over U.S. government concerns that the company’s products could facilitate Chinese spying. The administration cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology, including Google’s music and other smartphone services, and later barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.
The Biden White House, meanwhile, has kept up a hard line on Huawei and other Chinese corporations whose technology is thought to pose national security risks.
Huawei has repeatedly denied the U.S. government’s allegations and security concerns about its products.
Meng had long fought the Justice Department’s extradition request, with her lawyers calling the case against her flawed and alleging that she was being used as a “bargaining chip” in political gamesmanship. They cited a 2018 interview in which then-President Donald Trump said he’d be willing to intervene in the case if it would help secure a trade deal with China or aid U.S. security interests.
Last month, a Canadian judge held off on ruling whether Meng should be extradited to the U.S. after a Canadian Justice Department lawyer wrapped up his case saying there was enough evidence to show she was dishonest and deserved to stand trial in the U.S.
Comfort Ero, the interim Vice President of the International Crisis Group, Kovrig’s employer, said they have been waiting for more than 1,000 days for the news.
“Michael Kovrig is free. To Beijing: We welcome this most just decision. To Ottawa: Thank you for your steadfast support for our colleague. To the United States: Thank you for your willingness to support an ally and our colleague. To the inimitable, indefatigable, and inspiring Michael Kovrig, welcome home!” Ero said in a statement.
Associated Press writer Jim Morris in Vancouver, Canada, contributed to this report.
Blinken joins Trudeau in condemning Chinese sentences of Canadians .
The development comes as extradition hearings for Huawei's Meng Wanzhou are winding down in Vancouver. The legal predicaments of the Canadians is widely viewed as retaliation for Meng's arrest. Trudeau has called the charges against Spavor and Kovrig “trumped-up.” The high-profile cases of the "two Michaels" have become a top foreign policy challenge for Trudeau and are poised to spill into a Canadian federal election campaign that's expected to begin within days. 'Intense' talks involving U.S.