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Don Valley North MP Han Dong announced Wednesday evening that he is leaving the federal Liberal caucus to sit as an independent, but denied allegations related to his interactions with a Chinese diplomat.

Mr. Dong announced his decision shortly after Global News published a report, citing two separate national-security sources, that Mr. Dong privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February, 2021 that China should delay the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The Globe and Mail has not independently confirmed the allegations published by Global News.

“To all my colleagues in the Parliament, media reports today quoting unverified and anonymous sources have attacked my reputation and call into question my loyalty to Canada. Let me be clear, what has been reported is false. And I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” he said.

Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor spent more than 1,000 days in Chinese prisons in what was widely viewed as a retaliatory move in December, 2018 in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant to face fraud charges related to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

According to the Global News report, the two sources said Mr. Dong allegedly suggested to Han Tao, China’s consul-general in Toronto, that if Beijing released the two Canadians, the federal Conservative Party would benefit politically.

Global News reported that Mr. Dong said in a statement that he did have a discussion with the consul-general, but disputed that he initiated it and also denies that he advised Beijing to delay releasing Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor from prison.

Mr. Dong addressed the allegation in his remarks in the House of Commons.

“I want to assure Mr. Michael Spavor and Mr. Michael Kovrig and their families that I did nothing to cause them any harm. Like everyone in this House, I worked hard and advocated for their interest as a parliamentarian. The allegations made against me are as false as the ones made against you,” he said, later ending his statement in tears.

Alison Murphy, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, said Wednesday evening that the office would not be immediately providing a response to Mr. Dong leaving caucus or the allegations against him.

“No further comment from our office tonight. I’ll refer you to Mr. Dong’s statement in the House tonight,” Ms. Murphy wrote in an e-mail shortly after the MP’s announcement.

In the Global News report, Ms. Murphy said the PMO only became aware of the two-year-old conversation after Global News’ inquiries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ordered two closed-door panels, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), to study China’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections. The results of their work will be reviewed by former governor-general David Johnston.

Mr. Johnston was given a May 23 deadline to make a recommendation on whether to call a public inquiry. Mr. Trudeau has said he will accept whatever Mr. Johnston suggests.

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