(Bloomberg) -- A Canadian lawmaker has resigned from Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberal Party caucus after a media report alleged he spoke to Chinese diplomats in Toronto in 2021 and advised them not to release two imprisoned Canadians for political reasons.

Han Dong, who represents a district in Toronto, said the story is false, adding he is stepping aside from the Liberal caucus to avoid being a distraction and to clear his name. He will remain in Canada’s parliament as an independent member with no party affiliation.

“I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” Dong said in a statement delivered in Canada’s House of Commons on Wednesday night. The allegation was published by Canadian broadcaster Global News, which said it got the information from national security sources it didn’t name.  

The resignation comes after a series of reports that alleged Trudeau received intelligence briefings on Chinese attempts to meddle in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections, which his Liberal party won. Trudeau has so far resisted calls for a public inquiry into the matter, but has instead appointed a “special rapporteur” to examine all the evidence and decide whether an inquiry is warranted.

Read: Trudeau Envoy Labels China ‘Increasingly Disruptive’ Force

China detained Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in late 2018, shortly after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on a US extradition request. Meng, Kovrig and Spavor were released and allowed to return to their countries in September 2021. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin repeated Thursday at a regular press briefing in Beijing that his nation has no interest in Canada’s internal affairs.

“We hope relevant individuals will stop fabricating irresponsible remarks,” he said, apparently referring to the national security sources cited by Global News.

--With assistance from Philip Glamann.

(Updates with comments from China’s Foreign Ministry.)

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