2 Canadians detained in China since December 2018 have been released

People hold placards calling for China to release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on March 6, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (REUTERS) - Two Canadian citizens who were detained by Beijing for more than 1,000 days have left Chinese airspace and will arrive back in Canada early on Saturday (Sept 25), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday.

Mr Michael Kovrig and Mr Michael Spavor were picked up in December 2018, shortly after Vancouver police arrested Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.

Shortly before Mr Trudeau spoke, Meng flew back to China after reaching a deal with US authorities.

"Twelve minutes ago Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor left Chinese airspace on their way back home," Mr Trudeau told reporters in brief remarks.

"These two men have been through an unbelievably difficult situation, but it is inspiring and it is good news for all of us that they are on their way home to their families."

Although Beijing insisted throughout that the two cases were not linked, Mr Trudeau's Liberal government accused China of engaging in hostage diplomacy.

Mr Trudeau was not asked whether the two countries had struck a bilateral deal.

"I want to thank our allies and partners around the world in the international community who have stood steadfast in solidarity with Canada and with these two Canadians," he said.

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