Chinese government releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO reaches deal with DOJ

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Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

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Catch up quick: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in December 2018 after Meng was arrested in Vancouver for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

  • The two men were charged with espionage.

  • Spavor, a businessman, was sentenced to 11 years in prison while Kovrig, a former diplomat, was expected to wrap up his trial in March, according to CBC News.

  • Eleven other Canadians were also detained in China following Meng's arrest, with some released prior to Friday.

What's happening now: Meng's deal with DOJ settles a years-long dispute involving the U.S., China and Canada, where Meng has remained since her arrest.

  • Kovrig and Spavor boarded a plane at roughly 7:30 p.m. ET with the Canadian ambassador to China, and have cleared Chinese air space, Trudeau said.

What they're saying: “The U.S. Government stands with the international community in welcoming the decision by People’s Republic of China authorities to release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday.

  • “We are pleased that they are returning home to Canada,” he added.

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