China frees imprisoned Canadians after Americans agree to release Meng Wanzhou

For more than 1,000 days, the two Canadians were held in China separately prisons, accused of espionage, without evidence, and forced to go months without visits from diplomats.

The two men – Mr Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Mr. Spavor, an entrepreneur -was once relatively low-profile foreigners working in Asia. They became symbols of the consequences of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy, their detentions generally perceived as retaliation for Ms. NSis arrested.

In August, A court in northeastern China, where Mr Spavor has lived, sentenced him to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to espionage. Mr Kovrig had been awaiting sentencing.

During his detention, Kovrig, who worked for a non-profit organization, was confined to a small prison cell in Beijing and subjected to repeated interrogations. His diet was sometimes limited to rice and cooked vegetables, he told his family.

The Chinese authorities kept Kovrig so isolated that he was not aware of the details of the coronavirus pandemic until October when Canadian diplomats informed him during a virtual visit, according to his wife, Vina Nadjibulla.

Mr. Spavor, a businessman, created a career doing business with North Korea. He helped organize a visit to North Korea by Rodman, the retired basketball player, in 2013 and then a second visit the following year. Mr. Spavor’s company, Paektu Cultural Exchange, posted a picture shows Mr Spavor with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, on Kim’s yacht 2013.

In Canada, where the detention of “the two Michaels”, as the couple became known, was news on the front page for several months, the crisis had aroused widespread anger and stressed the country’s weakness in the face of a rising superpower.

Mr Trudeau had repeatedly criticized China’s handling of the case and demanded the release of the men.

While Kovrig and Spavor had minimal contact with the outside world during their imprisonment, Mrs. Meng encountered some such restrictions. She had been free to take private painting lessons and shop, and had it before the pandemic attended concerts by Chinese singers, even though she had to carry a GPS tracker.

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