On December 1, 2018, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the chief executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport upon a request by Washington, which wanted to prosecute her for bank fraud.
A few days later, two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were arrested in China on espionage charges.
This case led to unprecedented diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and Beijing. Canada viewed their detention as a retaliatory measure.
Meng Wanzhou, who had been under house arrest in Vancouver for nearly three years, departed Friday for Shenzhen. As a result of her liberation, she escaped extradition to the United States, where she was to be tried for bank fraud.
Meng pleads not guilty
“I’ve had my life turned upside down over the last three years,” said Meng, known as Huawei’s “princess,” who has always denied the charges and pleaded “not guilty” on Friday.
For the two Canadians, it was Justin Trudeau who announced the end of their detention. “Twelve minutes ago, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor left Chinese airspace on their way home,” he said.
“These two men have endured a horrific ordeal for over 1,000 days. They have shown determination, grace and resilience every step of the way and are an inspiration to us all,” he added, saying they were expected back in Canada on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed China for releasing the two Canadians after their “arbitrary” imprisonment.
The departure of Meng is the culmination of a dramatic deal negotiated between the Justice Department and China’s telecoms giant, announced by a court in New York on Friday.
Meng Wanzhou, accused of “conspiracy” to commit “bank fraud,” has been “deferred” for prosecution until Dec. 1, 2022, according to the Justice Department official at a recent public hearing in Brooklyn federal court.
According to the agreement, which was described by a federal judge as “serious” earlier this afternoon, Washington would also recommend that Ottawa release Ms Meng and drop any extradition request.
US authorities have accused Huawei’s number two, Meng Wanzhou, of lying to an HSBC executive at a meeting in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei’s relationship with a subsidiary called Skycom that sold equipment to Iran, exposing the bank to US sanctions.
According to the Justice Department, Meng admitted under the terms of the agreement to making “false statements” and “concealing the truth” from the then HSBC executive about Huawei’s “activities in Iran”, a country subject to US and international sanctions.