FACT Check Was Doctor Charles Lieber Arrested for Selling the COVID-19 Coronavirus to China
Several Social media users shared a video clip and claimed that a Doctor, Identified as Charles Lieber has been arrested for Manufacturing and Selling the COVID-19, Novel Coronavirus.

Facts Behind the Viral News of Dr Charles Lieber, linking him with manufacturing and Selling COVID-19 to China.

No, Dr Charles Lieber was not arrested for Manufacturing and Selling COVID-19 to China.

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Dr. Charles Lieber, 60, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, was arrested on January 28, 2020, and charged by criminal complaint with one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement.  Lieber had appeared on the same afternoon before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, The United States Department of Justice Reported

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Claims On Social media.

Recently, Multiple Social Media users made several False claims about Charles Lieber, linking him with the manufacturing and Selling of COVID-19 to China. Some claims are as below.

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  1. USA just discovered the man who manufactured and sold the Corona virus to China. Dr Charles Lieber, head of the chemistry and biology department at Havard University, USA was just arrested for selling COVID-19 to China in 50,000 US dollar, according to American department sources.
  2. Chinese Espionage! Dr. Lieber signed contract with Chinese University in Wuhan. Dr. Lieber is employed at Harvard University. Arrested for being paid $50K /month and 1.5 million US dollar for opening a lab in Wuhan.
  3. USA says man who manufactured and sold the COVID-19, Novel Coronavirus to China, Dr Charles Lieber, head of the chemistry and biology department at Harvard University, USA. He was just arrested today according to American department sources.

ORIGIN and source of This False Story

Since COVID-19 outbreak, several conspiracy theories are circulating on social media and a propaganda war is going on. Some people accusing Bill Gates for preparing COVID-19 in order to sell his vaccine. Meanwhile, others are accusing China and USA simultaneously for using COVID-19, Novel Coronavirus as a biological weapon against each other.

Following the stream of conspiracies, a portion of video from a news channel ‘ABC News’ with the reference of ‘WCVB‘ emerged on social media. The video shows a man (Andrew Lelling, US attorney) giving a media briefing. Andrew Lelling tells the media that the FBI has arrested Dr Charles Lieber along with two others highlighting the on-going threat posed by Chinese economic espionage and research theft.

The federal investigator added “The Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and two Chinese nationals have been charged in connection with aiding the People’s Republic of China.” The News reporter further explains the details of Dr Charles Lieber and accusations against him. However the federal investigator Did not mentioned that Charles Lieber was arrested for Manufacturing and Selling COVID-19 to China.

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This 1:48 minutes long video was shared in social media widely and people were resharing it to their fiends with captions similar to “Dr Charles Lieber was the man who manufactured and sold COVID-19 to China.” See the Tweets, below.

Tweet Reads: No media coverage? Chinese Espionage! Dr. Lieber signed contract with Chinese University in Wuhan. Dr. Lieber is employed at Harvard University. Arrested for being paid $50K/month & 1.5 million US dollar for opening a lab in Wuhan. 5 years prison if guilty? Did I hear that right?
Tweet Reads: The Chinese Virus Was Charles Lieber Arrested for Selling the COVID-19 Coronavirus to China #ChineseVirusCorona #ChineseBioterrorism #ChineseLiedPeopleDied

This video was shared even on Facebook.

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Facts Behind the viral video of Dr Charles Lieber arrest linking him to COVID-19 manufacturing and Sale
Image: Screenshot from Facebook

What We Found

The messages on Facebook and Twitter identified the professor as Dr Charles Lieber and it wasn’t difficult to figure out why the case was given the widespread coverage. We could find the details of this case on The New York TimesABCBloomberg among others. None of these reports aligned with the details given in the viral message and captions shared on social media.

All News Agencies mentioned the arrest of Charles Lieber, however, not a single publisher mentioned of Charles Lieber being involved in ‘manufacturing and selling’ COVID-19, coronavirus to China.

Finally we made a search on the United States Department of Justice’s official website and found an official press release explaining the details of Charles Lieber’s arrest and aftermath. Press release by The United States Department of Justice Reads:

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“According to court documents, since 2008, Dr. Lieber who has served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which specialized in the area of nanoscience, has received more than $15,000,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD).  These grants require the disclosure of significant foreign financial conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or foreign entities. Unbeknownst to Harvard University beginning in 2011, Lieber became a “Strategic Scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and was a contractual participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from in or about 2012 to 2017.  China’s Thousand Talents Plan is one of the most prominent Chinese Talent recruit plans that are designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security. These talent programs seek to lure Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information.  Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, WUT paid Lieber $50,000 USD per month, living expenses of up to 1,000,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 USD at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT.  In return, Lieber was obligated to work for WUT “not less than nine months a year” by “declaring international cooperation projects, cultivating young teachers and Ph.D. students, organizing international conference[s], applying for patents and publishing articles in the name of” WUT.

The complaint alleges that in 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and affiliation with WUT.  On or about, April 24, 2018, during an interview with investigators, Lieber stated that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program, but he “wasn’t sure” how China categorized him.  In November 2018, NIH inquired of Harvard whether Lieber had failed to disclose his then-suspected relationship with WUT and China’s Thousand Talents Plan.  Lieber caused Harvard to falsely tell NIH that Lieber “had no formal association with WUT” after 2012, that “WUT continued to falsely exaggerate” his involvement with WUT in subsequent years, and that Lieber “is not and has never been a participant in” China’s Thousand Talents Plan. 

Press Release By the United States Department of Justice on January 28, 2020

Who is Dr Charles Lieber

Charles M. Lieber or Dr Charles Lieber (born 1959) is an American chemist and pioneer in nanoscience and nanotechnology. In 2011, Lieber was named by Thomson Reuters as the leading chemist in the world for the decade 2000-2010 based on the impact of his scientific publications.[1] He is known for his contributions to the synthesis, assembly and characterization of nanoscale materials and nanodevices, the application of nanoelectronic devices in biology, and as a mentor to numerous leaders in nanoscience.

21 COMMENTS

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