FALSE: ‘Maker of coronavirus’ is arrested

FALSE: ‘Maker of coronavirus’ is arrested
Dr Charles Lieber was not arrested for creating the coronavirus, but for lying about his affiliation with China

Claim: The maker of the novel coronavirus has been arrested.

On April 6, Facebook page Videos and News Update posted a video of the WCVB news report on the alleged arrest of Harvard University Professor Dr Charles Lieber, captioning the post with: “The maker of coronavirus is arrested.”

The news report attached to the post contained the headline: “Harvard Dept. Chair, BU Researcher charged with concealing ties to China.” It contained clips of Andrew Lelling, US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, speaking at a press conference about Lieber’s supposed arrest.

As of writing, the post has gained around 1,500 reactions and 330 comments. The page also has around 7,000 followers.

The claim was sent to Rappler by a reader for verification.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: Lieber was not arrested for creating the coronavirus, but for lying about his affiliation with China.

Lieber was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 28. According to the FBI, Lieber repeatedly lied about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Plan and his affiliation with the Wuhan University of Technology. He also did not disclose his acquisition of millions of dollars from the Chinese government for foreign research.

Moreover, the news report attached to the post did not make any mention of the coronavirus. Instead, it only cited the charges against Lieber and two other Chinese, one of whom lied about her Chinese military service and another who attempted to smuggle vials of biological material back to China. 

Furthermore, scientists have concluded that the virus could not have been constructed in a laboratory. “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” said the authors of a research paper titled, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2.”

A similar claim earlier circulated saying that the FBI’s arrest of Lieber was connected to the coronavirus pandemic. (READ: FALSE: FBI arrest of China-backed professor was linked to coronavirus

As of April 12, the global coronavirus death toll has gone over 100,000, with at least 1.7 million cases confirmed worldwide. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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