A Canadian member of parliament (MP) has resigned from the Liberal Party caucus following allegations of involvement in Chinese interference with Canadian affairs.
Toronto-based politician Han Dong is accused of trying to lobby a Chinese diplomat in order to keep two Canadians imprisoned in Beijing, the BBC reported Thursday.
He allegedly contacted the Chinese consul-general in Toronto, Han Tao, and suggested the release of then-prisoners Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor should be delayed, Canadian media outlet Global News reported, citing unnamed national security sources. Dong announced Wednesday that he will be stepping away from the Liberal Party which is led by Justin Trudeau in order to establish himself as an independent.
Canada MP Han Dong steps down over Chinese interference claims https://t.co/vpyR2SRYdT
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 23, 2023
Many believed the two men were imprisoned in response to the arrest of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada, according to Global News. The U.S. had reportedly urged Canada to extradite the telecom chief on fraud charges. Wanzhou was later released from Canadian prison and returned to China. (RELATED: China Sentences 3rd Canadian To Death Amid Intensified Tensions Between Countries)
Dong quickly shot down the allegations against him, saying, “To all my colleagues in the parliament, media reports today quoting unverified and anonymous sources have attacked my reputation and called into question my loyalty to Canada,” the BBC reported.
“Let me be clear, what has been reported is false. And I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” he added.
Dong communicated with Global News via email and confirmed that he spoke with Han Tao, but denied he ever called for the Canadian prisoners’ delayed release, the outlet reported.
Chinese foreign affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin refused to comment on the situation but repudiated that Beijing had any involvement with Canadian politics, according to the BBC.