Meng Wanzhou back in China after 3 years of detention in Canada
After nearly three years of detention in Canada, Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou returned to China on Saturday.
Stepping out of the charter flight arranged by the Chinese government, Meng expressed her gratitude to everyone who was concerned about her during a brief speech in front of a crowd at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport.
Meng was detained in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant charging her with bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC Holdings about Huawei's business dealings in Iran.
She was ruled free to leave Canada without extradition proceedings in Canada and further prosecution in the United States after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday.
As Meng flew back home, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the charges against Meng were purely fabricated and her detention was "arbitrary."
"China's stance on the case of Meng Wanzhou is clear and consistent. Facts have already proven that this is a political persecution against a Chinese citizen and its aim is to suppress Chinese high-tech companies," Hua said on Saturday.
"Over the past three years, my life has been turned upside down. It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, a wife, and a company executive. But it was an invaluable experience in my life," Meng said after leaving a courtroom in Vancouver following the U.S. Department of Justice dropping its request for her extradition.
"I will never forget all the good wishes I've received from people around the world. As the saying goes, the greater the difficulty, the greater the growth."
She also expressed gratitude to China and the Chinese people for their help and support.
Meng has not pleaded guilty, William Taylor III, one of the lawyers representing Meng, said in a statement after Meng ended three years of house arrest in Canada.
"I'm very pleased that Sabrina Meng and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached a deferred prosecution agreement and it has been approved by Judge Donnelly," the statement said. "Under the terms of this agreement, Ms. Meng will not be prosecuted further in the United States, and the extradition proceedings in Canada will be terminated."
"We fully expect the indictment will be dismissed with prejudice after 14 months. Now, she will be free to return home to be with her family."
Huawei has issued a statement, saying, "We look forward to Ms. Meng returning home safely and reuniting with her family as soon as possible." The company "will continue to defend itself against the allegations in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian Saturday said on social media that he welcomed Meng's return to China.
Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport by Canadian police at the request of the United States while she was transiting on her way to Mexico.
The court proceedings show the U.S. issued the arrest warrant and claimed that Meng misled HSBC about Huawei's business in Iran. Meng and Huawei deny the accusations.
Meng was then released on bail and has been under house arrest in Vancouver since. An extradition hearing began in a Vancouver court in January 2020. The legal proceedings ended in mid-August this year without a decision.
In May 2019, the U.S. Commerce Department put Huawei and 70 affiliates on a trade blacklist. Over the next year, the company sold Honor, its budget smartphone brand, in November to a consortium to help the unit survive in the face of U.S. sanctions.