Two Canadians detained in China on espionage charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, hours after a top executive at Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies settled the criminal charges. against him in an agreement with the United States. Justice Department.
The frenzied chain of events involving global powers abruptly ended the legal and geopolitical disputes that for the past three years have shaken relations between Washington, Beijing and Ottawa. The three-way deal allowed China and Canada each to bring their own detained nationals home while the United States resolved a criminal case against a prominent technology executive who for months had been embroiled in an extradition fight.
The first activity came on Friday afternoon when Meng Wanzhou, 49, Huawei’s CFO and daughter of the company’s founder, settled with federal prosecutors calling for the fraud charges against him to be dismissed next year and allowed him to return to China. immediately. As part of the deal, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, he accepted responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business in Iran.
About an hour after Meng’s plane left Canada for China, Trudeau revealed that Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were also on their way home. The men were arrested in China in December 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng in an extradition request from the United States. Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage policy.”
“These two men have been through an incredibly difficult experience. Over the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance and grace and that inspires us all, ”said Trudeau.
The deal was reached as President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping tried to quell 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 a speech to the UN General Assembly earlier this week that he had no intention of starting a “new Cold War,” while Xi told world leaders that disputes between countries “must be handled through dialogue. and cooperation “.
As part of the Meng deal, which was revealed in federal court in Brooklyn, the Justice Department agreed to dismiss the fraud charges against him in December 2022, exactly four years after his arrest, provided he meets certain conditions, including non-challenge. any of the government’s factual allegations. The Justice Department also agreed to withdraw her request that Meng be extradited to the United States, which she had vigorously contested, ending a process that prosecutors say could have persisted for months.
After appearing by video conference for his hearing in New York, Meng made a brief court appearance in Vancouver, where he had been out on bail living in a multi-million dollar mansion while the two Canadians were being held in Chinese prison cells where the lights they were on. 24 hours a day.
Outside the courtroom, Meng thanked the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law, expressed his gratitude to the Canadian people and apologized “for the inconvenience I caused.”
“Over the past three years, my life has radically changed,” he said. “It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, wife and company executive. But I think 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. ”
Soon after, Meng took off on an Air China flight to Shenzhen, China, the location of Huawei’s headquarters.
Huawei is the world’s largest provider of network equipment for telephone and Internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress to become a global technology powerhouse, and a subject of US security and law enforcement concerns. Some analysts say that Chinese companies have disobeyed international rules and regulations and stolen technology.
The case against Meng stems from a January 2019 indictment by the Trump administration’s 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 sanctions. from the United States. The prosecution also accused Meng herself of committing fraud by misleading HSBC bank about the company’s business in Iran.
The indictment came amid a broader Trump administration crackdown on Huawei over US government concerns that the company’s products could facilitate Chinese espionage. The administration cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, including Google Music and other smartphone services, and then banned vendors around the world from using US technology. produce components for Huawei.
Meanwhile, the Biden White House has maintained a hard line with Huawei and other Chinese corporations whose technology is believed to pose national security risks.
Huawei has repeatedly denied the US government’s allegations and security concerns about its products.
Meng had long fought the Justice Department’s extradition request, and his lawyers called the case against him flaws and alleged that he was being used as a “bargaining chip” in the political game. They cited a 2018 interview in which then-President Donald Trump said he would be willing to intervene in the case if it would help secure a trade deal with China or help US security interests.
Last month, a Canadian judge delayed his decision on whether Meng should be extradited to the US after an attorney for the Canadian Department of Justice concluded her case saying there was sufficient evidence to show that she was dishonest and deserved to be tried. In U.S.A.