A colleague of Michael Kovrig says he was “thrilled” to hear that a Canadian was at home lasting more than 1,000 days in detention in China.
“It’s hard to explain but I’m more excited for him and his family than anyone else,” Praveen Madiraju told CTV News Channel on Saturday. “It’s been a long time and we’re thrilled for this next chapter…
Kovrig and fellow Canadian Michael Spover landed at Calgary International Airport early Saturday morning. Since December 2018, two men have been arrested while facing charges of espionage, after Canadian authorities – after responding to an extradition request from the US – arrested Huawei executive Meng Wan Zhou in Vancouver.
Meng was released Friday following a deal with US prosecutors. On the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the two Michaels were on a flight back to Canada.
Madiraju worked with Kovrig on the Crisis Group, a group of international foreign policy thinkers. Kovrig, a former diplomat, worked as a Northeast Asia consultant in China before his arrest.
“All of our staff have focused on Michael’s release for more than 1,000 days from December 2018,” Madiraju said.
“Since his arrest, most of our staff have never spent a day without thinking about him.”
The crisis group also issued a statement on Saturday, praising Canadian diplomats for his release efforts and expressing consolation that the Chinese government had “corrected it wrong.”
“Michael, we are very proud of you. We are very proud to be part of the Crisis Group family. You are an inspiration to all of us. Welcome home,” the group said.
Modeiraju says Kovrig “showed the best of what he had” while in custody.
“Throughout his time, he focused heavily on discipline to keep himself mentally and physically strong, and that resulted in greater grace and humility and concern for and concern for humanity and others,” he said.
“I think it says more about Michael than anything I can tell you.”