China scoffs at FBI claims Wuhan lab leak could cause Covid pandemic

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) – The FBI has assessed that a leak from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan may have caused the Covid-19 pandemic, Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday, adding that China had “no credibility.”

“The FBI has assessed for some time that the origin of the outbreak was most likely a possible laboratory incident in Wuhan,” Ray told Fox News.

His comments followed a Wall Street Journal report on Sunday that the U.S. Department of Energy had assessed with low confidence that the outbreak was the result of an unintended laboratory leak in China.

Four other agencies, along with the National Investigation Agency, are still ruling that the epidemic may have been the result of natural spread, and two are undecided, the Journal reported.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the US government had not reached a firm conclusion and consensus on the origin of the pandemic.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee on “Global Threats to the Homeland” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., on November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

China condemned Wray’s comments on Wednesday, saying it firmly opposes any “political manipulation” of facts.

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“Based on the U.S. intelligence community’s poor record of fraud and deception, their conclusions have no credibility,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing.

“…we urge the US side to respect science and facts.”

Many details of the agency’s assessment could not be shared because they are classified, Ray said.

He accused the Chinese government of “doing everything it can to block and obfuscate” efforts by the US and others to learn more about the origins of the epidemic.

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The virus was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019 and has since spread worldwide, killing nearly 7 million people.

Report by Eric Beach; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Nick MacPhee

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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