MP Han Dong says he has retained a lawyer and plans to sue Global News after it published a story alleging he advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off on freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — the two Canadians being held by China at the time.
Dong, who left Liberal caucus last week, confirmed to Global that he had a discussion with Consul General Han Tao but emphatically denied that he had advised Beijing to delay releasing the two Canadians.
On Friday, the Globe and Mail reported that the government received a CSIS transcript of Dong’s conversation with the consul and concluded that there was no “actionable evidence,” adding that it could not be determined that Dong asked the Chinese government to keep the two Canadians in prison for political reasons.
In a statement posted to Twitter Monday, Dong said he has a lawyer to “begin legal action to its fullest extent.”
Dong writes that his father was shaped by the time he spent at the May Seventh Cadre School re-education camp in 1970 during China’s cultural revolution, where he was “subjected to forced labour and 24-hour surveillance” for a year.
“From that experience my father knew there was no future left for him in China,” Dong wrote.
He said his father came to Canada two months after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and brought the rest of family over the next year.
Please see my statement below. <a href=”https://t.co/7NgcDKSaXy”>pic.twitter.com/7NgcDKSaXy</a>
“The trauma left on my father is one of the compelling reasons why, as co-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association and a Member of Parliament, I took every available opportunity to advocate on behalf of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and to call for their immediate release,” he wrote.
“It is inconceivable that I would ever suggest a falsely accused individual should spend an extra minute in jail.”
CBC News has reached out to Global and Corus Entertainment for comment.
‘I have the truth on my side:’ Dong
The Don Valley North MP said he supports a public inquiry into Chinese government interference and said he is willing to meet with former governor general David Johnston, the government’s recently appointed special rapporteur on foreign interference, and provide him with information.
“Despite the abuse and shame my family has suffered over the last few weeks, I truly believe that my parents made the right decision to come to Canada,” Dong wrote.
“I can look at myself in the mirror and know, with full certainty, that I have the truth on my side. My anonymous false accusers and their enablers cannot say the same.”
During a news conference Friday, Trudeau was asked if he believed Dong advocated for the delayed release of Kovrig and Spavor.
He responded by recommending that people watch Dong’s speech in the House of Commons earlier this week.
“We fully accept that he is stepping away from the Liberal caucus in order to vigorously contest these allegations,” said Trudeau.
“Interference from authoritarian governments like China, Russia, Iran and others is a very real challenge to our democracies and it’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Dong is also the centre of allegations his election campaign benefited from Beijing’s meddling and that he was “a witting affiliate.”
Global News cited anonymous sources who alleged national security officials gave an urgent briefing to senior aides from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office in 2019 “warning them that one of their candidates was part of a Chinese foreign interference network.”
Dong also denies those allegations.