LILLEY: Canada’s two Michaels finally freed from Chinese prison

After being imprisoned for 1,020 days on trumped up spying charges, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig boarded a plane bound for home Friday night

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After more than 1,000 days of China denying that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were being held on trumped up charges of spying, the two Canadians have finally been freed.


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Their freedom came on the same day Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a settlement with the Americans that allowed her to return home to China.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement Friday evening.

“About 12 minutes ago the aircraft carrying Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor left Chinese airspace and they are on their way home,” an emotional sounding Trudeau said. “They boarded at about 7:30 Ottawa time with Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China.”

Their 1,020 days in captivity came to an abrupt end when American prosecutors agreed to a plea deal with Meng on fraud charges. Once that deal was agreed to in a New York court, Canadian prosecutors agreed to drop the extradition proceedings against Meng.


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As she left the courthouse Meng thanked the judge and Crown prosecutor in her case.

“I’m also grateful to the Canadian people and media friends for your tolerance,” Meng said. “Sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

  1. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor.

    EDITORIAL: Shame on China for what they did

  2. Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China, are shown in these 2018 images taken from video.

    LILLEY: Trudeau’s weakness leaves two Michaels in dire straits

  3. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is out on bail in Vancouver living a life of luxury and enjoying holiday visits from family amid the pandemic while Canada's Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain hostages imprisoned in China.

    LILLEY: Meng’s lifestyle, family visit in Vancouver simply outrageous

  4. A man walks inside the Dandong city detention center where Canadian businessman Michael Spavor is being held on spying charges in the border city of Dandong, in China's northeast Liaoning province on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP) (Photo by /AFP via Getty Images)

    LILLEY: Spavor sentenced in a fake court, Trudeau needs to hold firm

Meng has spent the past two-plus years living in the lap of luxury. She has split her time between two Vancouver mansions, faced few restrictions and continued to shop the finest stores and host dinners at the cities poshest restaurants.

Yet she described it as a hardship on her way out the door.


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“It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, a wife, and a company executive,” she said before boarding a flight home.

The Trudeau government has faced pressure over the past several years to engage in what amounted to hostage diplomacy and free Meng in exchange for the two Michaels but they declined. Any such move would have put Canadians travelling in China in danger of being kidnapped the next time China wanted something.

“Their arbitrary detention is completely unacceptable, as is the lack of transparency around the court proceedings,” Trudeau said In March after Spavor’s trial.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Spavor was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in jail and was ordered deported, a factor that was not expected to happen until after the sentence was served.


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“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” Trudeau said Friday night. “For the past 1,000 days they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience, and grace. And we are all inspired by that.”

With this move, China has shown their claim that the cases of Meng and the two Michaels were in no way related was never anything but a lie. Their diplomats, their government can in no way be trusted with what they say or how they act.

The Trudeau government was in no way to blame for the kidnapping of these two Canadians. They took the right stance in refusing to do a prisoner swap and stayed steadfast in the face of pressure.

While I’m a frequent critic of the Trudeau government, they made the right moves here. Prime Minister Trudeau can stand proud on this file.

As for the two Michaels, welcome home.


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