No evidence Dechert compromised national security
Published Sunday, September 18, 2011 10:07PM EDT
An internal government investigation has concluded that Conservative MP Bob Dechert did not breach national security despite exchanging emails with a Chinese reporter, insiders say.
CTV News has learned the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have found no evidence Dechert compromised national security as a result of his relationship with Shi Rong, a reporter with the Xinhua News Agency in Toronto.
Senior CSIS and RCMP officers confirmed to CTV that the Chinese news agency functions as an intelligence arm of China.
Officials say Rong was on their radar, but the Chinese news agency is involved in a different type of espionage than spying on political figures.
More than a week ago, a number of emails between Dechert and Rong were sent to nearly 250 recipients, including news agencies, a leak Rong attributed to her husband.
In the emails, Dechert tells Rong she is beautiful and professes his love for her.
Dechert acknowledged sending the emails, which he described as "flirtatious." In a statement, however, he insisted the relationship was nothing more than a friendship, which "remained innocent and simply that -- a friendship."
One senior security officer told CTV News that Dechert displayed a "colossal lack of judgment. He was incredibly stupid to get involved with her."
The official said Dechert should "have known better."
Dechert serves as Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. Last week, Baird dismissed the controversy and said Dechert will keep his job.
Dechert had been briefed about Chinese and Russian spying in Canada before becoming parliamentary secretary at the Justice Department and later at Foreign Affairs.
Officials say they have no evidence that Dechert gave Rong sensitive information. If he had, they would have passed the information immediately on to the prime minister.
A published report says NDP MP Nathan Cullen would like Dechert called before the House of Commons ethics committee to explain his conduct.