Wuhan virus lab scientists have 'defected' to West, claims Steve Bannon
The former Trump aide told the Daily Mail that Chinese experts who defected to the West are helping spies to build a case against Beijing that virus was lab leak. He also called Wuhan a "biological Chernobyl".
US President Donald Trump's former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has called the central Chinese city of Wuhan a "biological Chernobyl" and claimed that top virus experts from the Chinese laboratory at the centre of global suspicion over the coronavirus pandemic have "defected" to the West.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Bannon said that defected Chinese virus experts are working with US intelligence agencies to build a case against China’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis that it had been caused by a leak from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan and that the subsequent cover-up had amounted to "pre-meditated murder".
Bannon – who had played a key role in Donald Trump presidential campaign – said: "I know that certain defectors are working with the FBI here to try to knit together what happened" in the Wuhan institute, which he said was "horribly run and terribly mismanaged".
Bannon told the newspaper that these scientists have been providing evidence of China’s Communist Party’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic. "They are not talking to the media yet, but there are people out of the Wuhan lab and other labs that have come to the West and are turning over evidence of the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party. I think people are going to be shocked".
Saying that defectors were talking to the intelligence agencies in America, Europe and the UK, Bannon said: "I think that they (spy agencies) have electronic intelligence, and that they have done a full inventory of who has provided access to that lab. I think they have very compelling evidence. And there have also been defectors."
He said that people who have been working in Chinese labs including Wuhan Institute of Virology have been leaving China and Hong Kong since mid-February and adding that American intelligence along with the MI5 and MI6 are trying to build a solid legal case which might take some time.
"People around these labs have been leaving China and Hong Kong since mid-February. (US intelligence) along with MI5 and MI6 are trying to build a very thorough legal case, which may take a long time. It’s not like James Bond."
Talking about COVID-19, 66-year-old Bannon said: "It’s not that hard for these viruses to get out. That is why these labs are so dangerous.
"You essentially had a biological Chernobyl in Wuhan, but the centre of gravity, the Ground Zero, was round the Wuhan lab, in terms of the casualty rates. And like Chernobyl, you also had the cover-up – the state apparatus reports to itself and just protects itself", he added at a time of tensions between the US, China and the WHO over the pandemic response.
US President Donald Trump says the WHO is not impartial and has accused the international agency of covering up for China, whom he blames for the global health crisis. He has alleged that the health body intentionally ignored reports that COVID-19 was spreading between people in Wuhan in December and misled the world resulting in deaths of over 573,000 people globally, including over 135,600 in the US.
But the WHO has denied assertions by Trump that it promoted Chinese "disinformation" about the virus. Also, Chinese officials have pushed back, defending the country’s handling of the outbreak and saying the identification of the virus in China does not mean it originated there.
The Chinese government dismisses claims of the laboratory leak as a "conspiracy theory" and denies any cover-up.