Meng Wanzhou struck a deal with the US Justice Department on Friday to resolve its charges against him – a deal that paved the way for a B.C. court to release him and allow the Huawei Technologies executive to return to China.
And, shortly after Meng took off on an Air China flight from Vancouver to Shenzhen, China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were on their way back to Canada.
Both Kovrig and Spavor had spent more than 1,000 days in custody in China – the trial that began just days after Canadian police arrested Meng in December of 2018 at the behest of a US extradition request.
Meng was originally wanted on US charges of fraud by misleading HSBC Bank on his company’s transactions in Iran. Spavor and Kovrig, as “Two Michaels” is often referred to, were taken into custody on charges of espionage.
Here is a timeline of the major events leading up to the freeing of “Two Michaels” and the release of Meng:
August 22, 2018: An arrest warrant was issued in a New York court for Meng Wanzhou to stand trial in the United States.
December 1, 2018: Canadian police arrested the Huawei CFO while she was changing planes at Vancouver airport, complying with an extradition request.
December 6, 2018: Chinese officials claimed they were not given the reason for Meng’s arrest. Both the White House and Trudeau distanced themselves from the arrest.
December 7, 2018: Information from court proceedings revealed that the US issued an arrest warrant against Meng because it believed he covered up attempts by companies linked to Huawei to sell equipment to Iran, breaching US sanctions against the country.
December 8, 2018: China summoned Canadian Ambassador John McCallum and warned of dire consequences if Meng was not released.
December 10, 2018: Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were detained in China.
December 11, 2018: A B.C. court released Meng on $10 million bail — putting him under house arrest in Vancouver, under 24/7 surveillance, and surrendering his passport.
January 8, 2019: According to a Reuters report, Huawei is accused of having ties to companies that were suspected of having trade deals in Iran and Syria – against US sanctions.
January 22, 2019: The US Department of Justice formally seeks Meng’s extradition to the United States.
January 26, 2019: Trudeau fired Canada’s ambassador to China John McCallum for telling Chinese-language media that Huawei could make a bigger case against extradition.
February 4, 2019: Canada’s canola shipments are delayed to enter China, effectively slowing trade for Canada’s biggest exporters.
1 March 2019: Canada formally approved Meng’s extradition to the US. China ‘strongly opposes’ this decision.
3 March 2019: Meng’s legal team filed a civil suit against Canada over her arrest, claiming a “serious violation” of constitutional rights. China also claimed that Kovrig stole state secrets with the help of Spavor.
March 6, 2019: China claimed to have found “dangerous pests” in Canadian canola samples and halted most shipments of the crop. An industry group would later say that China has stopped all canola exports from Canada.
25 June 2019: China asked Canada to stop meat exports to the country over “forged certificates”.
15 July 2019: Canada delayed a decision on whether Huawei would be allowed to build 5G networks in the country.
April 23, 2020: Canada marks the 500th day of Kovrig’s detention in China. The prime minister will also point out that both Spavor and Kovrig did not receive consular service due to the COVID-19 restrictions in China.
May 27, 2020: A BC Supreme Court judge ruled that the charges against Wanzhou met the legal standards of double criminality. Therefore, they can be considered a crime in both the United States and Canada.
June 19, 2020: China formally accused both Kovrig and Spavor of alleged espionage.
August 25, 2020: Meng’s lawyers insisted on releasing more documents related to his arrest but a Canadian court blocked them.
October 8, 2020: A Supreme Court judge in B.C. ruled that Meng did not have the authority to make more disclosures, except for one clause in the email.
October 26, 2020: On the second branch of abuse of procedure began the examination of witnesses.
November 16, 2020: Another two weeks of cross-examination of witnesses began.
Canadian border agents, testified, stood by their decision to interrogate Meng before federal police were allowed to detain him. Huawei’s lawyers claimed that federal police violated Meng’s rights by identifying the details of his electronic equipment to US authorities.
March 19, 2021: Spavor’s trial began resulting in a two-hour closed court hearing that ended without an immediate verdict. A Chinese court said the verdict would be decided later.
March 22, 2021: Kovrig will also be involved in a close court trial, in which a Chinese court issued a statement similar to that of Spavor – that a verdict would be announced at a later date.
August 4, 2021: Meng returned to the courtroom in the final week of the hearing. Meng’s lawyers would argue that the US acted in “bad faith” when the US requested Meng’s extradition from Canada.
August 10, 2021: A Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage, and 50,000 were confiscated and will be deported at an unspecified date.
Trudeau called the punishment “absolutely unacceptable and unjust.” Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton accused China of delivering the verdict in a timely manner with Meng’s decision, which had an extradition hearing held simultaneously.
August 13, 2021: Meng’s lawyers accused the US of filing a “seriously flawed” case against him that did not meet the extradition threshold.
August 18, 2021: The judge reserved her verdict in Meng’s extradition case and said she would set a later date for pronouncement of the verdict on October 21.
September 5, 2021: The federal leader, who was in the middle of campaigning for the 2021 federal election, marked the 1,000 days since Spavor and Kovrig were first detained in China.
September 24, 2021: Meng struck a settlement with US prosecutors in a deferred prosecution agreement. The Huawei executive will plead not guilty to the charges leveled against it, but will admit to some wrongdoing.
September 24, 2021: A Canadian court rejected the US extradition request and the bail conditions of Meng. Within hours of appearing in court, Meng will board a flight to Shenzhen, China – the location of Huawei’s headquarters.
September 24, 2021: Trudeau announced that Kovrig and Spavor boarded a plane with Ambassador Barton and were on their way home. PM will not tell…