Canada’s ‘two Michaels’ back on Canadian soil after three years in Chinese prison

By CityNews Ottawa

After almost three years in a Chinese prison, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are finally back in Canada.

According to a report from 680 News, the two men landed at the Calgary International Airport early Saturday morning via a Canadian Air Forces passenger plane.

Kovrig and Spavor were charged with espionage by the Chinese government soon after Canadian authorities executed an extradition request from the United Station to arrest Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the Vancouver airport in December.

Earlier this year, Kovrig and Spavor were both convicted of spying in closed Chinese courts — a process that Canada and dozens of allies said amounts to arbitrary detention on bogus charges in a closed system of justice with no accountability.

Spavor was handed down an 11-year sentence, while Kovrig had yet to be sentenced.

They were detained on Dec. 10, 2018.

Wanzhou was released Friday after U.S. prosecutors struck a deal.

Almost immediately, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday that the two Canadian men were released and on a flight back to Canada.

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

China has publicly maintained that there is no connection between her case and the men's imprisonment but has also dropped broad hints that if she were allowed to go free, that could benefit the two Canadians.

Kovrig is a Canadian diplomat on leave to the International Crisis Group, a peace-building non-governmental organization.

Spavor is an entrepreneur who tried to forge people and business ties to North Korea.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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