America just discovered the man who manufactured and sold the Corona virus to China. Charles Lieber
April 6, 2020
America just discovered the man who manufactured and sold the Corona virus to China. Dr. Charles Lieber, head of the Chemistry and Biology department at Havard University, USA. U.S.A. He was arrested today according to US department sources.
Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
(BLITZ) — A video clip is creating buzz in the social media, claiming a professor of Harvard University has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for collaborating with China in creating coronavirus. But this newspaper has independently investigated the matter and found the rumor was spread by India Today, an Indian news journal, which has extreme intimacy with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to an India Today report, a message with a video clip is circulating on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp claiming that the US authorities have arrested Dr. Charles Lieber, a Harvard professor, for ‘creating coronavirus and selling it to China’.
Facebook users like ‘Alex Alvarez’ and ‘Meera Singh’ have posted the video – a clipping of US news channel ‘WCVB’ – with the caption, ‘USA just discovered the man who manufactured and sold the #coronavirus to #China. Dr #CharlesLieber, head of the chemistry and biology department at #HarvardUniversity, USA. He was just arrested today according to American department sources’.
The claim has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter.
In January, Harvard professor Charles Lieber was charged with lying to US federal authorities about payments he allegedly received from Wuhan University of Technology and concealing his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Plan, a state-run program that recruits elite scientific talent.
Given that the coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, however, Lieber’s apparent connections to the Chinese city quickly sparked internet rumors that he had in fact been arrested on suspicion of playing a part in manufacturing the virus.
In a statement, the state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology said “internet rumors” had “received close attention from all walks of life” and “caused great harm to our research staff on the front line of scientific research”.
It said its staff had been working around the clock since the end of 2019 to trace the source of the coronavirus and improve detection rates, but the conspiracies had “seriously interfered” with their efforts.
The institute has been accused of “artificially synthesizing” the coronavirus in one of its laboratories, it said. It also referred to other claims circulating online that the “patient zero” in the current outbreak was a graduate student from the institute, and that one of its researchers had also died after the virus “leaked”.
Conspiracy theories often prosper during epidemics, and have sprung up during recent outbreaks of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), avian flu and Ebola, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sydney.
“If there is an infectious disease lab in a city where an outbreak starts, it usually gets the blame.”
Many of the rumors circulated domestically and overseas claim the coronavirus was engineered by local scientists and leaked, deliberately or by accident, in Wuhan where the virus was first detected and is the epicenter of the epidemic.
A team of 27 scientists published a statement in the Lancet medical journal condemning the conspiracy theories, which “do nothing but create fear, rumors and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.”
They said scientists from around the world “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife”. The current consensus is that it emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan that also sold exotic wild animal products.
China usually cracks down heavily on “rumors”, and it even arrested Li Wenliang, a doctor who first disclosed the existence of a SARS-like disease in Wuhan at the end of last year and subsequently became its most prominent casualty.
But it has been unable to silence the vast number of outlandish claims circulating on social media channels.
Shanghai government newspaper Liberation Daily had published a regular round-up of misinformation, including allegations that large numbers of infected patients are coming to the city for treatment, and a claim the virus can be cured by strong curry.
A video is making a lot of buzz which claims that the US has found the man who made and sold coronavirus to China. Doctor Charles Lieber, a Harvard professor, was blamed in the video for sending the coronavirus which has become humanity’s greatest tragedy since the second world war.
However, it turns out, that the video is fake and old and BLiTz confirmed the video’s veracity was before on January 29.
Lieber is a nanoscientist, who develops small or nanomaterials. He heads Harvard University’s Chemistry and Biology department and has been affiliated with the university since 1991.
The doctor was arrested, but not on April 5 as claimed in the video but this January.
He has been charged not for coronavirus, but for aiding China in a case of financial conflict of interest.
In China, there is an assistance program called “Thousand Talent Plans” for aiding foreign experts, who bring knowledge to the country.
Reportedly, the program also rewards individuals who steal proprietary information.
The complaint against Lieber says that he lied to Harvard and the government about his involvement with the Talents Plan. It says that Lieber was associated with the program from at least 2012 to 2017. His contract included a salary as high as $5000 a month, living expenses of nearly $150,000 per year and another $1.5 million for the establishment of a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Technology.
It may be mentioned here that, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been making frantic bids in putting the accusation on China for spreading Coronavirus, clearly with the agenda of putting Beijing on odds as well as sabotaging President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a brainchild of the Chinese leader, which will connect Asian nations with Europe, Africa and beyond. India considers BRI as a threat to its ambition of emerging as regional superpower.
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Harvard University Professor and Two Chinese Nationals Charged in Three Separate China Related Cases
The Department of Justice announced today that the Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and two Chinese nationals have been charged in connection with aiding the People’s Republic of China.
Dr. Charles Lieber, 60, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, was arrested this morning and charged by criminal complaint with one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement. Lieber will appear this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts.
Yanqing Ye, 29, a Chinese national, was charged in an indictment today with one count each of visa fraud, making false statements, acting as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy. Ye is currently in China.
Zaosong Zheng, 30, a Chinese national, was arrested on Dec. 10, 2019, at Boston’s Logan International Airport and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to smuggle 21 vials of biological research to China. On Jan. 21, 2020, Zheng was indicted on one count of smuggling goods from the United States and one count of making false, fictitious or fraudulent statements. He has been detained since Dec. 30, 2019.
Dr. Charles Lieber
According to court documents, since 2008, Dr. Lieber who has served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which specialized in the area of nanoscience, has received more than $15,000,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD). These grants require the disclosure of significant foreign financial conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or foreign entities. Unbeknownst to Harvard University beginning in 2011, Lieber became a “Strategic Scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and was a contractual participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from in or about 2012 to 2017. China’s Thousand Talents Plan is one of the most prominent Chinese Talent recruit plans that are designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security. These talent programs seek to lure Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information. Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, WUT paid Lieber $50,000 USD per month, living expenses of up to 1,000,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 USD at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT. In return, Lieber was obligated to work for WUT “not less than nine months a year” by “declaring international cooperation projects, cultivating young teachers and Ph.D. students, organizing international conference[s], applying for patents and publishing articles in the name of” WUT.
The complaint alleges that in 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and affiliation with WUT. On or about, April 24, 2018, during an interview with investigators, Lieber stated that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program, but he “wasn’t sure” how China categorized him. In November 2018, NIH inquired of Harvard whether Lieber had failed to disclose his then-suspected relationship with WUT and China’s Thousand Talents Plan. Lieber caused Harvard to falsely tell NIH that Lieber “had no formal association with WUT” after 2012, that “WUT continued to falsely exaggerate” his involvement with WUT in subsequent years, and that Lieber “is not and has never been a participant in” China’s Thousand Talents Plan.
According to the indictment, Ye is a Lieutenant of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China and member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). On her J-1 visa application, Ye falsely identified herself as a “student” and lied about her ongoing military service at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), a top military academy directed by the CCP. It is further alleged that while studying at Boston University’s (BU) Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering from October 2017 to April 2019, Ye continued to work as a PLA Lieutenant completing numerous assignments from PLA officers such as conducting research, assessing U.S. military websites and sending U.S. documents and information to China.
According to court documents, on April 20, 2019, federal officers interviewed Ye at Boston’s Logan International Airport. During the interview, it is alleged that Ye falsely claimed that she had minimal contact with two NUDT professors who were high-ranking PLA officers. However, a search of Ye’s electronic devices demonstrated that at the direction of one NUDT professor, who was a PLA Colonel, Ye had accessed U.S. military websites, researched U.S. military projects and compiled information for the PLA on two U.S. scientists with expertise in robotics and computer science. Furthermore, a review of a WeChat conversation revealed that Ye and the other PLA official from NUDT were collaborating on a research paper about a risk assessment model designed to decipher data for military applications. During the interview, Ye admitted that she held the rank of Lieutenant in the PLA and admitted she was a member of the CCP.
In August 2018, Zheng entered the United States on a J-1 visa and conducted cancer-cell research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston from Sept. 4, 2018, to Dec. 9, 2019. It is alleged that on Dec. 9, 2019, Zheng stole 21 vials of biological research and attempted to smuggle them out of the United States aboard a flight destined for China. Federal officers at Logan Airport discovered the vials hidden in a sock inside one of Zheng’s bags, and not properly packaged. It is alleged that initially, Zheng lied to officers about the contents of his luggage, but later admitted he had stolen the vials from a lab at Beth Israel. Zheng stated that he intended to bring the vials to China to use them to conduct research in his own laboratory and publish the results under his own name.
The charge of making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of visa fraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of smuggling goods from the United States provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Field Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta; Michael Denning, Director of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Philip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; and William Higgins, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, Boston Field Office made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann, Jason Casey and Benjamin Tolkoff of Lelling’s National Security Unit are prosecuting these cases with the assistance of trial attorneys William Mackie and David Aaron at the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
These case are part of the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, which reflects the strategic priority of countering Chinese national security threats and reinforces the President’s overall national security strategy. In addition to identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage, the initiative will increase efforts to protect our critical infrastructure against external threats including foreign direct investment, supply chain threats and the foreign agents seeking to influence the American public and policymakers without proper registration.