2021-09-25 05:26:17 China Frees Jailed Canadians After U.S. Agrees to Release Meng Wanzhou

China Frees Jailed Canadians After U.S. Agrees to Release Meng Wanzhou

The Chinese government has denied accusations of “hostage diplomacy,” but their detention, arrest, and trial of the two Canadians served as a reminder to Ottawa — and Washington — that their fate was also at stake. The United States, according to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, welcomed the men’s release “after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention.”

The two Canadians were held in separate Chinese prisons for more than 1,000 days, accused of espionage without evidence and forced to go months without visits from diplomats.

Mr. Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Mr. Spavor, an entrepreneur, were once relatively unknown expatriates in Asia. Their detentions were widely perceived as retaliation for Ms. Meng’s arrest, and they became symbols of the consequences of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy.

Mr. Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison in August by a court in northeastern China, where he had been living, after being found guilty of spying. Mr. Kovrig had been awaiting the outcome of his case.

Mr. Kovrig, who worked for a nonprofit organization, was held in a small jail cell in Beijing and subjected to repeated interrogations during his detention. He told his family that his diet was sometimes limited to rice and boiled vegetables.

According to his wife, Vina Nadjibulla, the Chinese authorities kept Mr. Kovrig so isolated that he was unaware of the coronavirus pandemic until October, when Canadian diplomats informed him during a virtual visit.

Mr. Spavor, a businessman, made a name for himself by doing business with North Korea. Mr. Rodman, the retired basketball player, paid a visit to North Korea in 2013, and then returned the following year. In 2013, Mr. Spavor’s company, Paektu Cultural Exchange, posted a photo of Mr. Spavor with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Mr. Kim’s yacht.

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China Frees Jailed Canadians After U.S. Agrees to Release Meng Wanzhou