China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that two Canadians detained in late 2019 who were allowed to return to Canada in a prisoner swap had been released on bail for health reasons.
A ministry spokesman made the remarks after Beijing sought to defuse the link between his release and the return of a long-detained Huawei Technologies executive to China.
Canada’s Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in December 2019, when Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of US authorities.
Several countries dubbed China’s actions “hostage politics”, while China accused Ottawa of arbitrary detention. Two Canadians were jailed for more than 1,000 days.
Meng opposed the US demand for extradition from Canada. She landed in China on Saturday after reaching an agreement with the US Justice Department that led to a prisoner swap.
“Meng Wanzhou’s case is completely different in nature from Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing on Monday.
Hua said both men were suspected of endangering national security.
Spavor, an entrepreneur, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for espionage. Korwig had not yet been sentenced but was facing similar charges.
China released two Canadians on bail, “with a diagnosis by professional medical institutions and guaranteed by Canada’s ambassador to China,” Hua said.
Hua did not respond to reporters’ questions about whether the prisoner’s release was completely unrelated and what the health reasons were.
A spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Beijing asked questions from Granthshala Affairs Canada in Ottawa.
Meng reached a settlement with US federal prosecutors that would drop the fraud charges against him next year. In return, she is accepting responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business deals in Iran.
His return to China was broadcast live on the country’s central broadcaster, CCTV, as he dressed in a red dress in the shade of the Chinese flag and thanked the country’s leader Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party.
On Monday, Hua said Meng was the victim of “political persecution” and was able to return to China thanks to the “tireless efforts of the government”.
In contrast, news about the release of two Michaels was reported by the state-owned tabloid Granthshala Times, and when the news spread online, it was not broadcast by more authoritative state media agencies such as CCTV or Xinhua.
Huawei is the largest Granthshala supplier of network gear to phone and Internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a technological world power – and has been the subject of US security and law enforcement concerns.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration cut off Huawei’s access to American components and technology, including Google’s Music and other smartphone services, and subsequently barred vendors around the world from using American technology to produce components for Huawei. slap down.
Associated Press video producer Liu Zheng contributed to this report.