Ian Profiri is the JURIST correspondent for Canada. He’s tabling this dispatch from Calgary.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and officials from the US Department of Justice have reached an agreement to resolve the criminal charges against her more than three years ago, which exacerbated tensions between the United States, China and Canada. As part of the deal, Meng was released on bail and US officials withdrew their extradition request. If Meng abides by the terms of the deal, she could have the US charges against her dismissed.
Meng appeared virtually in a New York courtroom on Friday and pleaded “not guilty” to US charges of selling telecommunications equipment to Iran, violating US sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Meng also appeared in the British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC) where a judge signed a release order, setting aside his bail conditions and allowing Meng to leave Canada. It was hoped that these actions would prompt China to release so-called “Two Michaels” Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor, Canadian citizens would have been arrested and charged in retaliation for Meng’s detention. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Friday evening that a plane carrying the Two Michael’s as passengers had left China.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 by Canadian officers at the behest of the U.S. Trump administration. His detention triggered retaliatory measures, including the arrest of the Two Michaels and the Chinese application of tariffs on Canadian products. China called the actions against Meng politically motivated and “inhumane,” further demanding that Canada “take China’s concerns seriously” and release Meng immediately.
Meng was first charged with bank and wire fraud for allegedly misleading a bank into Huawei’s dealings with Iran. Meng was released on bail and placed under house arrest in December 2018 and has since been held at her Vancouver mansion. In May 2020, the BSCS ruled that the charges against Meng met the standard of “dual criminality”, that the alleged acts could be considered crimes in Canada, required under Canadian law to form the basis of extradition to the requesting country. Subsequently, the two Michael were formally charged in China with espionage.
Beijing has always officially insisted that there was no connection between the events. The Canadian government at the time of Meng’s arrest showed deference to the courts in settling the case. Prime Minister Trudeau bluntly reminded observers that the Canadian judiciary acts independently of the executive and that the latter would not interfere in the proceedings of the former. Trudeau also dismissed ideas of a trade between the two nations for their prisoners.
Recently, Chinese courts have held top secret hearings for each of the two Michael’s. Spavor was later found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in prison. At the time, Prime Minister Trudeau called the decision “unacceptable” and noted that the verdict “comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the judicial process and a trial that failed. was not satisfied. . . standards required by international law. To date, the Chinese verdict on Michael Korvig’s charges has yet to be released.
Today’s developments have hopefully ended a political saga that began almost four years ago.