The Justice Department also agreed to drop its request that Meng be extradited to the U.S., which she had vigorously challenged.
After appearing via videoconference for her New York hearing, Meng made a brief court appearance in Vancouver, where she’d been out on bail living in a multimillion-dollar mansion while the two Canadians were held in Chinese prison cells where the lights were kept on 24 hours a day.
Outside the courtroom, Meng thanked the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law, expressed gratitude to the Canadian people and apologized “for the inconvenience I caused.”
“Over the last three years my life has been turned upside down,” she said. “It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, a wife and as a company executive. But I believe every cloud has a silver lining. It really was an invaluable experience in my life. I will never forget all the good wishes I received.”
Shortly afterward, Meng left on an Air China flight for Shenzhen, China, the location of Huawei’s headquarters.
Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a technological world power — and a subject of U.S. security and law enforcement concerns. Some analysts say Chinese companies have flouted international rules and norms and stolen technology.
The case against Meng stems from a January 2019 indictment from the Trump administration Justice Department that accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The indictment also charged Meng herself with committing fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
The indictment came amid a broader Trump administration crackdown against Huawei over U.S. government concerns that the company’s products could facilitate Chinese spying.
The administration cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology, including Google’s music and other smartphone services, and later barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.
The Biden White House, meanwhile, has kept up a hard line on Huawei and other Chinese corporations whose technology is thought to pose national security risks. Huawei has repeatedly denied the U.S. government’s allegations and security concerns about its products.
Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, Kovrig’s former boss, said he was elated the two Canadians are home.
“Clearly, the Chinese were so eager to get Meng back that they jettisoned all pretensions that the two Michaels had been arrested for good reasons. They must acknowledge that their reputation has been severely tarnished,” Saint-Jacques said.
“There is grumbling in the Communist party of China, people saying, ‘In which direction are we going, Xi Jinping? We are creating too many enemies. Why are we enemies with countries like Canada and Australia?'”
Saint-Jacques said he thinks China will think twice before using “hostage diplomacy” again.