For nearly three years, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has been detained in Canada, awaiting extradition to the United States on fraud charges. On Friday, all of that changed, as the US and China reached an agreement and the US Justice Department dropped its extradition request, allowing Meng to go free, reports the BBC. "My life has been turned upside down," Meng said outside British Columbia's Supreme Court after her release. "It was a disruptive time for me." AFP notes Meng—who'd been out on $8 million bail and under house arrest in her Vancouver mansion since December 2018, per the New York Times—boarded a plane bound for Shenzhen, China, shortly afterward.
Meng and Huawei were indicted by the DOJ in early 2019 on charges of bank and wire fraud, with the agency alleging that Huawei and Meng had lied to HSBC bank officials on whether Huawei was involved in unlawful business with Iran—which would have prohibited the bank from financing Huawei's sale of telecommunications equipment to Iran, due to sanctions.
Per the deferred prosecution deal, Meng agreed to acknowledge a "statement of facts" that said she knowingly making false statements to HSBC, though she was able to formally deny guilt on those allegations, per the BBC. Meng has "taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution," the DOJ notes. For its part, the DOJ has agreed it won't prosecute Meng, 49, until December 2022. The case will be dropped altogether if she complies with court conditions.
Just days after Meng was arrested, China arrested two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, and accused them of spying, in what critics say was retaliation for Meng's detention. Spavor was convicted last month and sentenced to 11 years behind bars. Friday's development appears to have changed the fate for those two men: They were released by China and flew back to Calgary, Alberta, on Saturday, where they were greeted by a hug from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reports the AP. "For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance, and grace and we are all inspired by that," Trudeau said. (Read more Meng Wanzhou stories.)