PODCAST: Former head of MI6 – U.K.’s top spy agency – tells reporter coronavirus ‘escaped from a Chinese lab’

LONDON – The former Head of MI6 told a U.K. reporter he believes the coronavirus started as an accident after it escaped from a Chinese lab.

Sir Richard Dearlove – who was in charge of Britain’s top spy agency MI6 from 1999 to 2004 – said the Covid-19 outbreak started after it was created in an experiment in China.

“I do think that this started as an accident,” said Sir Richard Dearlove.

Dearlove described the virus as an engineered escapee and said it was accidentally leaked when Chinese scientists were experimenting on bat coronaviruses.

To back up his claims, he cited a recently-published peer-reviewed study by renowned scientists. The paper was printed in a prestigious journal and claimed to have found “inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface” that allow the virus to come into contact with human cells. Dearlove said the study was rewritten several times. It was reported to be “watered down” to delete any accusations against Beijing.

The paper will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership. The former head of MI6 said it’s critical that countries not allow China to have any part in critical infrastructure such as 5G telecommunications technology.

“Do not allow the Chinese to benefit strategically from this situation,” said Dearlove.

U.K. publication, The Telegraph, reported that researchers from the Imperial College London and Francis Crick Institute rejected the study’s determinations. Academic journals such as Nature and the Journal of Virology said the study was unsuitable for publication. 

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in April that the virus “was not manmade or genetically modified.” And, intelligence sources told the U.K.’s Guardian in May there was no evidence the coronavirus was released from a Chinese lab.

Beijing has denied the claims.

The report raises the issue of whether China should pay damages. U.S. President Donald Trump has said China must compensate for the damages caused by the outbreak.

In the podcast, Pearson also questioned measures politicians are taking during the pandemic, saying, “Hysterical mainstream media (are) barking at the politicians about the highest death rate, forcing them to introduce quite draconian measures that don’t make much sense.”

-sarah.murphy@albertapressleader.ca

Sarah Murphy/Alberta Press Leader

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