While Meng Wanzhou contemplates flying to freedom to her home country, China, many Canadians on Friday lashed out at the continued imprisonment of two Canadians, known across the country as “the two Michaels.”
Others expressed hope that Ms. Meng’s release could clear a path to their liberation.
The men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, a former diplomat and businessman, arrested in what many considered to be retaliation for Ms. Meng’s detainment, have become potent symbols in Canada of China’s repression. They have spent more than 1,000 days behind bars, deprived of sunlight, interrogated and unable to see their families.
At the courthouse in Vancouver, where Ms. Meng was discharged on Friday afternoon, a crowd of at least 100 people gathered outside the courtroom, a number of them protesters shouting that she was guilty.
Ms. Meng did not respond when someone shouted, “What about the two Michaels?”
Canada’s Justice Department issued a statement saying Meng Wanzhou was free to leave Canada.
“Canada is a rule of law country. Meng Wanzhou was afforded a fair process before the courts in accordance with Canadian law,” it said. “This speaks to the independence of Canada’s judicial system.”
Some suggested that the deal could pave the way for better relations between Canada and China after a long period of acrimony.
“Today’s developments could mark a new phase in the strained relationship between the Canadian and Chinese governments,” wrote the CBC, the national broadcaster.
Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat, told the CBC that talks between Washington and Beijing would now likely focus on freeing the two Canadians.
“You would get the plea by Meng Wanzhou and then at some later date we would see the two Michaels deported back to Canada,” he told CBC’s “Early Edition.” “But I would not expect it to follow in a matter of days.”