Sep 28, 2021
By Jane Brown
We’re learning negotiations that led to freedom for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor ramped up in early August after U.S. President Joe Biden became seriously engaged in ending a legal standoff with China.
A Globe and Mail report quotes unnamed sources as saying Biden insisted any deal to drop the U.S. extradition case against Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou and defer criminal charges could not happen unless the two Canadians were released at the same time.
The report goes on to say Chinese President Xi Jinping, who along with Biden, wanted to reset U.S.-China relations on a more stable footing, did not object to the Canadians being released from Chinese prisons as long as Meng was allowed to return home without having to admit guilt for bank and wire fraud.
No one in the U.S., Chinese or Canadian governments will confirm there was any quid pro quo in the deferred prosecution agreement with Meng for the release of Kovrig and Spavor, including White House spokesperson Jen Psaki.
“There is no link,” Psaki told reporters, “We have an independent justice department, we can’t determine how the Chinese or others manage their business over there. It’s a little bit different, but we have an independent justice department that made independent law enforcement decisions. At the same time, we have made no secret about our push to have the Two Michaels released. That’s certainly positive news and good news.”
The two men were released Friday night and flown home to Canada after being held for nearly 3 years in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou.
Meng was released from Canadian custody on Friday after reaching a plea deal with authorities in the U.S., where she had faced fraud charges