MP Han Dong seeking $15M in defamation suit against Global News

MP Han Dong is seeking $15 million in damages from Global News over articles that allege the former Liberal MP was a "witting" participant in a Beijing-backed foreign interference network.

Dong accuses Global of publishing 'false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory' stories

A man in a jacket, shirt and tie stands in a hallway.
Liberal MP Han Dong speaks with reporters outside the House of Commons on March 21. (Chris Rands/CBC)

MP Han Dong is seeking $15 million in damages from Global News over articles alleging he was a "witting" participant in a Beijing-backed foreign interference network.

The statement of claim, provided by Dong's legal team, accuses Global of publishing "a series of false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory," stories about the MP.

Last month, Global published a story alleging Dong 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.

The story quotes two anonymous national security sources who alleged that Dong told China's consul general Han Tao in Toronto that releasing the men would benefit the Conservatives.

In a February story, 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."

Composite illustration featuring Michael Spavor, left, and Michael Kovrig.
Michael Spavor, left, and Michael Kovrig were released from detention in China in September 2021. (Colin Hall/CBC, Chris Helgren/Reuters)

The statement of claim says that both articles are "false and defamatory" and that Global acted "irresponsibly" in its reporting.

"These allegations were made by anonymous sources whose credibility and reliability were assumed, rather than vigorously tested," the statement reads. It also says Global failed to provide enough context about the sources' jobs or seniority.

The lawsuit names a number of Global reporters, including the author of the two stories in question. Dong is also asking that the articles and associated broadcasts be retracted and removed from Global's website.

"The defendants… have maliciously destroyed Han Dong's hard-earned reputation and career and have exposed Dong and his family to a campaign of hateful messages and threats," the statement of claim says.

Dong said last month he planned to take legal action against Global. Sonia Verma, editor-in-chief of Global News, said then that Global "is governed by a rigorous set of journalistic principles and practices. We are very mindful of the public interest and legal responsibility of this important accountability reporting."

A spokesperson for Global said on Thursday they had no further comment.

Dong stepped down from the Liberal caucus last month to sit as an Independent, saying he would work to clear his name.


Darren Major

CBC Journalist

Darren Major is a senior writer for CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He can be reached via email at darren.major@cbc.ca.