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EDMONTON – Canada’s Ambassador to the United States said the Chinese government has entered into dialogue to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Addressing CTV’s question period on Sunday, Ambassador Kirsten Hillman said that as judicial negotiation of the Huawei Meng Wanzhou executive’s case with the US Department of Justice drew closer to a resolution , China began to bow to pressure to release the two Canadians.

“I think I felt incredible pressure from Canada for over 1000 days [and] from our allies around the world that we had mobilized regarding the Michaels situation… I think the Chinese government decided that, you know, it was time to put this behind them and move on, ”Hillman said.

Kovrig and Spavor, detained on espionage since December 10, 2018, arrived in Canada on Saturday, just a day after a British Columbia court dropped the extradition case against Meng for fraud and conspiracy related to US sanctions against Iran.

The detention of the two Canadians was widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of Chinese telecommunications giant CFO, although China has consistently denied the cases were related in any way.

When asked if this was a case of hostage diplomacy, Hillman said the facts seem to show it.

“Well I mean I think everyone is drawing the conclusions that the facts seem to show [that]”said Hillman.

She says the United States did not make the release of the two Michael’s a condition of resolving the charges against Meng, noting that the resolution was a completely independent process.

“As the resolution for Ms. Meng was heading for success… the Chinese government made its decision,” she said.

“And his decision was that it was no longer in his best interests to continue detaining Michaels, so they started the process by talking to our officials in Beijing about making arrangements for the Michaels to leave.”

Hillman thanked the “incredibly talented” consular officials in Beijing and Ottawa for their hard work behind the scenes to bring the Michaels home, in addition to Canada’s allies who stood up in the declaration against arbitrary detention.

“I think it’s really important to point out… that Canada has never shied away from its commitment to international law. We have never succumbed to the pressure that unfortunately both Michaels suffered, ”said Hillman.

“It’s not specifically focused on China, you know there are other countries engaging in tactics like this and I think we need to think about what we can do from here. to make sure it never happens again, ”she added.


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