Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig touched down on Canadian soil on Saturday after being arbitrarily detained in China for 1020 days.
But while experts are applauding the U.S. for its role in getting the two Michaels home, the White House is distancing itself from the development.
“We have an independent Justice Department that made independent decisions, law enforcement decisions,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, speaking during a Monday briefing.
“At the same time, we have made no secret about our push to have the two Michaels released. That’s certainly positive news and good news.”
The two men’s freedom came just hours after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou secured a deal with U.S. prosecutors to drop the charges against her — and the extradition order that had been keeping her in Canada since December 2018.
Despite the White House’s denials, a Canadian former foreign affairs minister is speculating that Biden is responsible for bringing the two Michaels home.
“Quite frankly, it was President (Joe) Biden that actually managed to to do this, because he had leverage that he was willing to use in negotiating the reduced charges against Meng Wanzhou,” argued former foreign affairs minister John Manley.
“So he had leverage. We didn’t and we still don’t.”
Former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques expressed a similar sentiment.
“What I believe happened is that, while it’s true that there’s rule of law in the U.S. and the decision was made independently, there were communications between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping very recently,” Saint-Jacques said.
“And I’m sure that Joe Biden impressed on the Xi Jinping that if the two Canadians were not released at the same time, that there would be consequences.”
Though, he added, “maybe I’m wrong.”