morgan freeman & edena hines

E'Dena Hines and Morgan Freeman

*Actor Morgan Freeman is finally responding to all the rumors and stories about him being romantically involved with his 27-year-old step-granddaughter E’Dena Hines. He says the reports are “defamatory fabrications.”

Freeman, 74, released a statement responding to recent reports that he and Hines have been dating for roughly 10 years and were planning to get married in the very near future, reports TMZ.

Freeman’s rep tells us the actor remained silent for years because he didn’t want to “dignify these stories by commenting” … but now he feels compelled to speak out after the reports were picked up by various “mainstream media” outlets.

In his statement, Freeman says, “The recent reports of any pending marriage or romantic relationship of me to anyone are defamatory fabrications from the tabloid media designed to sell papers.  What is even more alarming is that these fabrications are now being picked up by the legitimate press as well.”

E’Dena has also issued a statement … saying, “These stories about me and my grandfather are not only untrue, they are also hurtful to me and my family.”

For the record, E’Dena is the granddaughter of Morgan’s first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw. She and Morgan are not related by blood.