The Biden administration is preparing to release the chief financial officer of Chinese spyware company Huawei in a deal brokered with Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The Department of Justice negotiated the deal to release Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese national who was arrested by Canadian authorities upon American request in 2018. Federal courts charged Meng with financial fraud and trade espionage, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
China, however, continues to imprison two Canadian nationals—former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor—whom Chinese authorities detained only days after Meng's arrest in 2018. Experts have speculated that Beijing used the two Canadians as a potential bargaining chip for Meng's release, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far ruled out any potential exchange involving Meng and the two citizens. Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo called China's charges against Kovrig and Spavor "groundless" and "politically motivated."
Meng was at the helm of Huawei, which has formed deep ties with the Chinese military and developed surveillance tools potentially used to spy on Uyghur Muslims, as it exploded in growth during the 2010s. Beijing summoned its American and Canadian ambassadors after Meng's arrest, calling the charges "extremely vicious" and assuring "serious consequences" if Meng were not released.