Meng Wanzhou, the embattled Chinese technology executive facing possible extradition to the U.S., has been reading books cover to cover, completing oil paintings and is thankful for the kindness of Canadians as she awaits the results of her court proceedings from Vancouver.
On the anniversary of her arrest at Vancouver International Airport she reflected on her year in Canada in a blog post published on Huawei.com with the title: Your warmth is a beacon that lights my way forward.
The posting says that she never intended to be in Canada as long as she has and that, at times, it’s been a struggle of fear, disappointment and torment.
The tone of the piece is more positive than negative but a contrast to the experience of two Canadians jailed in China weeks after her arrest.
“Over the past year, I have also learned to face up to and accept my situation,” says the blog by Meng. “I’m no longer afraid of the unknown.”
Meng, 47, was arrested on Saturday Dec. 1, 2018 and has been living in one of two multi-million dollar homes she owns in Vancouver since she was released on $10 million bail in the weeks after she was first detained.
The conditions of her release restrict her movements to the Vancouver area. She is also monitored by a security guards and wears an ankle bracelet but can have visitors and communicate freely.
American authorities want to prosecute her for fraud in relation to statements she allegedly made in 2013 to an HSBC bank executive in Hong Kong about Huawei’s relationship with a company doing business in Iran.
News reports at the time suggested the company — Skycom — was actually a Huawei subsidiary.
Prosecutors say that by claiming otherwise, Meng induced four banks into possible violations of U.S sanctions laws against Iran, putting them at risk of fines and criminal liability.
The blog posting recounts none of these details, but lyrically illustrates how much her life has changed since she was “stretched thin” conducting business for Huawei from Shenzhen, Guangdong where the company has its headquarters.
“If a busy life has eaten away at my time, then hardship has in turn drawn it back out,” the blog reads.
Meng says her time is now passing more slowly and she is able to read books from cover cover, linger over conversations and “carefully complete an oil painting.”
Much of the blog gives thanks for support for her ordeal from Huawei colleagues, customers and suppliers.
Meng writes in the blog that she has “been deeply moved by the kindness of people in Canada.” In particular she gives thanks to the institution where she was held before being released on bail.
“Thanks to the kindness of the correctional officers and other inmates at the Alouette Correctional Center for Women, I was able to make it through the worst days of my life,” the blog says.
It also says that a security company’s staff shoveled a path for her elderly mother to visit.
The blog says all the kindness and goodwill was given her strength.
“I no longer feel so far from home,” it says. “I’m no longer afraid of the rough road ahead. While my personal freedoms have been limited, my soul still seeks to be free. Amidst these setbacks, I’ve found light in the life around me.”
December 18 will mark the anniversary of the detainment of two Canadians in China, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. Chinese officials detained Spavor and Kovrig following the RCMP’s arrest of Meng, allegedly in retaliation for the Meng arrest.
China has been arbitrarily detaining our colleague <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MichaelKovrig?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MichaelKovrig</a> for 357 days. <br><br>Michael is a Canadian national. He has yet to see a lawyer or his family.<br><br>Join our call to <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreeMichaelKovrig?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#FreeMichaelKovrig</a> ➔ <a href=”https://t.co/LQTnQ451QR”>https://t.co/LQTnQ451QR</a> <a href=”https://t.co/eUMdXrD0qz”>pic.twitter.com/eUMdXrD0qz</a>
According to Global Affairs Canada, Canadian officials have been granted consular access more than a dozen times to asses their well-being, provide legal guidance and help them communicate with loved ones.
Meng did not mention the men in her blog posting.
Canadian officials say Spavor and Kovrig have faced multiple hours of questioning on numerous days and do not have access to a lawyer. Other Canadians who have been detained in China say conditions are difficult.
The first phase of Meng’s extradition hearing is expected to begin in January.
For an in depth look at the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver please see the CBC podcast Sanctioned: The Arrest of a Telecom Giant.