Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig back in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the ‘two Michaels’ are heading back to Canada after being detained for almost three years in China.
During a news conference held Friday night in Ottawa, Trudeau told reporters that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were on a flight that took off out of China’s airspace at around 7:30 p.m. eastern time. The men are being accompanied by Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton.
“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” Trudeau said during Friday night’s media scrum. “For the past 1,000 days they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace and we are all inspired by that.”
During his speech, Trudeau thanked the families of both Michaels for supporting the government’s efforts in trying to free both men. The prime minister also expressed gratitude to various diplomats around the world along with Canadian officials who helped secure the release of the Spavor and Kovrig.
“It is good news for all of us that they are on their way home to their families,” Trudeau said.
The pair were arrested by Chinese authorities in December 2018 in what has been speculated as an act of retaliation after Huawei Chief Finance Officer, Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia days earlier at the request of the United States government.
China later refuted those claims and stated the men were arrested for legitimate reasons.
According to news reports from The Globe and Mail, Wanzhou reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department earlier on Friday allowing her to return to China. She reportedly left Vancouver Friday evening on a flight to Shenzhen, China.
Earlier tonight, the aircraft carrying Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor left Chinese airspace. After an unbelievably difficult ordeal, they are on their way home. I want to thank every single person and partner around the world who helped secure their release.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 25, 2021