Social media is totally abuzz with reports that a US scientist, who is currently with the Harvard University, has been arrested by United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for manufacturing the novel coronavirus in conspiracy with China.
Dr Charles Lieber's arrest did happen somewhere in January but it is certainly not in connection with novel coronavirus.
These claims are highly misleading; while Dr. Lieber - a nanoscientist and biochemist - was arrested by the US DOJ for allegedly making a false statement about his involvement with the Chinese government, and for alleged non-disclosure of Chinese funding.
Good morning, India. While you were sleeping, this was our most-read story:— BOOM FactCheck (@boomlive_in) April 11, 2020
Social media posts misleadingly claim that Dr. Charles Lieber was arrested for manufacturing the novel #coronavirus in collusion with China. #BOOMFactCheck #COVID19https://t.co/98p8cm7toN
Media sites have stated that the professor did make fraudulent statements to the US federal authorities but the connection that some people made between his arrest and the novel coronavirus are totally off the grid.
Facebook users such as "Alex Alvarez" and "Meera Singh" have reportedly posted the video - a clipping of US news channel "WCVB" - with the caption, "USA just discovered the man who manufactured and sold the #coronavirus to #China. Dr #CharlesLieber, head of the chemistry and biology department at #HarvardUniversity, USA. He was just arrested today according to American department sources."
Video gets over 2 lakh hits
The same video was also shared on YouTube and had over 2 lakh views on it already. It should be noted that there are many false and fake claims being circulated over the social media these days about coronavirus and the government has tightened its noose around those who are circulating such false news.
The video, however, is authentic but if you look at the entire video, coronavirus is not even mentioned once throughout the clip, however, it does talk about Dr. Lieber's arrest for hiding his involvement with China.
Dr Lieber has served as principal investigator of Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which specialises in nanoscience, and received over $15 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD).
In order to receive such grants, revelation of considerable foreign financial conflicts of interest that includes financial support from foreign governments is required.
It should also be noted that Dr Lieber was also a 'strategic scientist' at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and a contractual participant in China's 'Thousand Talents Plan', which is to attract and recruit overseas talent and experts to contribute to China's scientific development, and the Chinese Government did give him a huge amount of money. It is alleged that Dr Lieber hid this from the US authorities and Harvard University.
The conclusion is that Dr Lieber did get arrested for concealing the fact that he received a huge amount of money from the Chinese Government and that he worked as a "strategic scientist" at the China's Wuhan University of Technology. But the US authorities have not found any connection of Dr Lieber with coronavirus.