U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former media mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice.
Black, 74, spent almost three and a half years in a Florida prison before being released and deported back to Canada. He had originally been sentenced to 78 months in jail, but had his sentence reduced after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several of his initial convictions.
A statement from the White House on Wednesday said Black has made “tremendous contributions to business, as well as to political and historical thought.”
It also cites several prominent individuals whom it says “have vigorously vouched for [Black’s] exceptional character.” They include former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Elton John, Rush Limbaugh, and the late William F. Buckley Jr.
In a statement late Wednesday Black called his legal ordeal “nonsense,” adding, “there was never a word of truth to any of it. And now it is over, after 16 years, including three years and two weeks in U.S, federal prisons.”
Black, a Canadian-born British citizen, once ran an international newspaper empire that included National Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, Britain’s Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post.
He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1990. He renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 so he could become a British Lord.
In 2011, Rideau Hall began a review of his position in the Order of Canada due to his criminal convictions. Despite Black’s many attempts to fight being kicked out, including in Federal Court, Governor General David Johnston removed Black from the order in January 2014.
He remains Lord of Crossharbour, though he has been on a leave of absence from the British House of Lords since June 2012.
Thought White House call was a prank
Black was found guilty in the United States in 2007 of scheming to siphon off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by Hollinger Inc., where he was chief executive and chairman.
Two of his three fraud convictions were later voided, and his sentence was shortened.
Black has remained steadfast in declaring his innocence on all of the U.S. charges and in his belief that he was subjected to unfair prosecution in the United States.
In 2018 Black published Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.
In his long statement, which recounts in detail the events of the past decade or so, Black says he has not spoken to Trump since he took office. Black said he thought the call he got Wednesday from the White House might have been a prank, but that he recognized Trump’s voice.
“He could not have been more gracious and quickly got to his point, that he was granting me a full pardon.”
Black has been living in Toronto since 2012.