A new report by Global News based on national security sources claims that Liberal MP Han Dong advised a Chinese diplomat to prevent the freeing of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
On Wednesday evening, Dong informed the House of Commons that he would be resigning from the Liberal Party and would sit as an independent MP.
Kovrig and Spavor were detained by China in retaliation to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou by Canadian authorities. They have since been released following a deal with China secured by the US Department of Justice.
According to the sources, Dong told China’s consul general in Toronto Han Tao that freeing the two Canadians would benefit the Conservatives.
Additionally, Dong guided the diplomat to show progress on their cases in order to help the Liberals.
Dong denies claims that he initiated the conversation and told Consul General Han to not release Kovrig and Spavor but confirmed to Global News that he did speak with the diplomat.
“I raised the status of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and called for their immediate release,” Dong told the outlet.
“At every opportunity before they returned home, I adamantly demanded their release to Canada without delay. Any suggestions otherwise are false and are attempts to mislead you and your readers, and slander me.”
The Prime Minister’s Office told Global News that it was not aware of the conversation between the Liberal MP and the Chinese diplomat until the media raised the issue.
“(We) only became aware that a conversation took place after Mr. Dong told us, following recent media questions,” PMO spokesperson Alison Murphy told Global News.
“At no time was Mr. Dong ever used as a ‘back channel.’”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended Dong who is facing allegations of benefiting from a Chinese election interference plot involving Beijing bussing in supporters for his Liberal Party nomination in 2021.
“Han Dong is an outstanding member of our team and suggestions that he is not loyal to Canada should not be entertained,” said Trudeau in February.