Meng Wanzhou was released from custody in Vancouver, Canada, and immediately left in China. Meng, 49, is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Meng’s release was part of an agreement involving the release of two Canadian citizens from imprisonment in China in controversy spanning three years and referred to by some as “hostage diplomacy.”
Businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig landed at an airport in Calgary just before Meng was released and allowed to board a flight back to China. Meng had been held on house arrest in Canada while fighting against proceedings seeking her extradition to the U.S.
The deal reached between the three countries included an agreement by the U.S. to suspend and ultimately drop fraud charges against Meng. As Meng was leaving Vancouver, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the two released Canadians had left Chinese airspace. He referred to their experience as an “unbelievably difficult ordeal.”
On Saturday, the two Canadians landed in Calgary after being held on what the Canadian government called “trumped-up” spying charges.
The Chinese government had likewise called the charges against Meng “purely political.” Spokeswoman Hua Chunying referred to the case against Meng as an “incident of political persecution” and “totally fabricated.”
Beijing had also claimed that Ottowa was merely doing the bidding of Washington by arresting and detaining Meng. She is a high-profile executive of Huawei and is known as the “princess” of the company.
She was charged by federal prosecutors with wire fraud against HSBC bank, claiming that she concealed violations by a Huawei affiliate of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
Meng was welcomed back to China at the airport in Shenzhen by a crowd of supporters waving Chinese flags and chanting “Go Huawei!”
Federal prosecutors had said that Huawei has close contact with the Chinese military and government. The company said that it would continue to defend itself in American courts against what it says are untrue allegations.
Before the release deal was finalized, Spavor had been sentenced to 11 years in prison in China. Kovrig’s case was still pending.