Disinfo: Scientist who created coronavirus was arrested in the US

Summary

In the US, a doctor that allegedly created the COVID-19 virus and sold it to China has been arrested. We are talking about Dr. Charles Liber, the Head of Chemistry and Biology at Harvard University. This American scientist had a contract with Wuhan University to study COVID-19. He was arrested in his office in Harvard, USA.

Disproof

This is part of the Kremlin disinformation campaign about the coronavirus being artificially created.

The claim has gone viral on social media and alleges the US government has “just discovered and arrested” Dr. Charles Lieber from Harvard University, for “manufacturing and selling” the new coronavirus to China. Different iterations of the claim have been shared in multiple languages over 79,000 times on Facebook as of April 7, 2020, according to Crowdtangle.

While the Department of Justice did arrest Dr. Charles Lieber, chair of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department at Harvard University, this was not for creating the new coronavirus nor for selling it to China. Lieber and two non-Harvard Chinese researchers were charged with lying about their alleged links to the Chinese government.

No evidence is given to suggest that the virus is man-made. According to the World Health Organisation, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). COVID-19 is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Research done so far shows that it is a virus transmitted between animals and people. Read more about coronavirus here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: China, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Disproof

An unfounded claim attempting to depict the United States as the culprit of this tragedy.

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The Coronavirus story is a lie.. It’s all about 5G

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Disproof

Disinformation message intended to sow doubt and spread confusion about the coronavirus.

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French president is the symbol of Western moral decay, which caused the coronavirus

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Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about "threatened values" and the West's alleged moral decay, specifically targeting the French president with allegations of homosexuality - a frequent trope deployed by pro-Kremlin media to make the case for Europe's moral decline. Pro-Kremlin outlets have sought to link the coronavirus with homosexuality on several occasions, including claims that the coronavirus was sent by God to punish homosexuals and environmentalists, and that gay marriage is a cause of the virus.

Scientists and researchers have documented the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It comes from a family of viruses originating in animals that includes others such as SARS and MERS.