FBI, DHS to accuse China of trying to hack coronavirus researchers: reports

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are planning to issue a warning accusing China of trying to hack U.S. research of the coronavirus, according to multiple reports.

The public warning is likely to be issued in coming days, officials told The New York Times, which first reported on the warning Sunday. 

The draft of the warning claims China is seeking “valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing,” according to the Times.

The warning was not finalized and plans around its release could change, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.  

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday that Beijing opposes all forms of cyberattack, the Journal noted. 

“China is leading in the research of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment. It is immoral for anyone to engage in rumor-mongering without presenting any evidence,” he said in a briefing, according to the newspaper. 

The Trump administration has accused China of stealing intellectual property in the past, and the expected accusation regarding attempted hacks of coronavirus research could lead to increased tensions between the U.S. and China. 

Trump administration officials have already criticized China for its handling of the outbreak, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted last week that the question still remains over whether the virus came from a Chinese lab, despite contradicting statements from other senior officials and health experts. In an interview, Pompeo said there is “enormous evidence” the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, but the claim has received pushback from other officials. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley last week said the evidence points to the virus occurring naturally and that there is no “conclusive evidence” it was leaked accidentally or intentionally from a lab. 

Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has also pushed back on the accusations and said the disease likely originated in the wild.

Tags Anthony Fauci China Coronavirus Intellectual property Mike Pompeo

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