China: Two Canadians released in prisoner swap for health reasons

China's Foreign Ministry Monday announced that two Canadians held in China in late 2019 and allowed to return to Canada as part of a prisoner swap, were released on bail because they were ill.

China: Two Canadians released in prisoner swap for health reasons

Beijing attempted to minimize the relationship between their release and the return of a Huawei Technologies executive long detained in prison, a ministry spokesperson said.

Canadians Michael Spavor, and Michael Kovrig were taken into custody in December 2019. This was just days after Meng Wanzhou (Hawk's chief financial officer) was detained in Canada by U.S. authorities.

China's actions were called "hostage politics" by many countries, while Canada was accused of arbitrarily detained. They were held for over 1,000 days.

Meng refused to be extradited from Canada by the U.S. After reaching an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, she landed in China Saturday.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, stated that Meng Wanzhou's case is very different to Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in nature.

Hua stated that the two men were believed to be endangering national security.

Spavor, an entrepreneur was sentenced to 11 year imprisonment for spying. Kovrig was not yet sentenced, but was facing similar charges.

Hua stated that China released two Canadians after they were examined by medical professionals and given the assurance of the Canadian ambassador to China.

Hua didn't answer journalists' questions about whether or not the release of prisoners was unrelated to their health and why.

Canada maintains that Spavor and Kovrig were innocent of any charges.

Marc Garneau, Canadian Foreign Minister, stated Monday that "we continue to oppose how these two citizens were treated."

He stated that Spavor and Kovrig paid a heavy price because their country "observed law" when responding to the U.S. extradition request.

Later Monday, representatives from the two countries exchanged retorts on the assembly floor. China rejected Canada's view of the matter. Canada maintained its belief that Spavor and Kovrig were mistreated.

Meng and the U.S. Federal Prosecutors reached an agreement that will allow her to drop all fraud charges next year. She has also accepted responsibility for misleading Iranian business transactions.

Jen Psaki, U.S. White House press secretary, said Monday that Meng's decision to return to China was a matter of law enforcement and was made by the U.S. Justice Department. She said that President Joe Biden's administration had advocated for the release and that the White House was not involved.

She stated that Biden raised concerns regarding the Canadians' detention during a conversation he had with President Xi Jinping this month.

Meng's return from China was broadcastlive by CCTV, the country's national broadcaster. Red dress in the color of China's flag was worn by Meng, who thanked Xi and members of the ruling Communist Party.

Hua, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, stated Monday that Meng had been a victim to "political persecution" but was able to return home to China because of the "government's unrelenting effort."

The release of the Canadians, however, was reported by the state-owned tabloid Global Times. While the news spread online it was not carried in more authoritative state media agencies like CCTV or Xinhua News Agency.

Huawei is the largest global supplier of network equipment for mobile phones and internet companies. It is a symbol for China's technological progress and has been a source of concern for U.S. security and law enforcement.

The former President Donald Trump's administration closed Huawei's access U.S. parts and technology. This included Google's music, as well as other services. Later, the U.S. government banned all vendors from making components for Huawei.

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