In his first public statement since returning to Canada, Michael Spavor says he is “overjoyed” to be reunited with his family.
Spavor, along with Michael Kovrig, returned to Canada last week after being detained in China for nearly three years.
Spavor, an entrepreneur who worked in North Korea and China, and Kovrig, a former diplomat, were first detained in December 2018 — just days after Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities.
They were on a plane back to Canada just hours after the extradition case against Meng was dropped. Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. authorities related to fraud charges against her and has since returned to China.
In his statement, Spavor said he was grateful for the expressions of support he received from Canadians.
“It’s humbling as I begin to understand the continued support that we’ve received from Canadians and those around the world, thank you. I’m appreciating being outside and the simple things around me,” he said in a statement released through Global Affairs Canada.
Meng spent her time in Canada under house arrest at her multimillion-dollar home in Vancouver, while Kovrig and Spavor endured poor conditions in detention and limited contact with the outside world.
Spavor was found guilty of spying and sentenced to 11 years in prison and deportation by a Chinese court in August, although the legal process was roundly criticized by Canadian officials. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said that Spavor’s sentencing followed a “mock sham trial.”
Kovrig’s trial concluded in March but he had not yet been sentenced when he was released.
Kovrig spoke briefly to reporters after he landed last week, saying he felt “fantastic.”
Kovrig’s wife Vina Nadjibulla (the two are separated) and his sister Ariana Botha were there to greet him when he landed back on home soil.
“There are no words to describe the emotions that have been running through us these last 24 hours. Joy, relief, overwhelming gratitude for everyone who has worked to make this happen,” Nadjibulla said upon his return.