Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, a conspiracy theory is going viral on social media.
According to a India Today report, a message with a video clip is circulating on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp claiming that the US authorities have arrested Dr Charles Lieber, a Harvard professor, for ‘creating coronavirus and selling it to China’.
However, India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim to be misleading.
Dr Charles Lieber was arrested in January 2020 for lying and making fraudulent statements to the US federal authorities about funds he had allegedly received from the Chinese government.
His arrest has no connection to coronavirus.
Facebook users like ‘Alex Alvarez’ and ‘Meera Singh’ have 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’.
The claim has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter.
But why was Dr Lieber arrested?
Dr Charles Lieber is a nanoscientist and has no connection to coronavirus.
News of his arrest was reported widely by the mainstream US media.
According to The New York Times, the Harvard professor was accused of concealing Chinese funding.
He was not arrested for spying or accused of sending any sensitive information to China.
Dr Lieber was arrested in January 2020 by the US federal authorities for ‘making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement’ on funds he received from China.