FBI Director Chris Wray said Tuesday that Beijing has hampered efforts by the United States and others to investigate the origins of the coronavirus.
in a interview with Fox NewsWray said the FBI believes Covid likely originated from a «potential laboratory incident» in Wuhan, but that the Chinese government has essentially interfered with the ongoing investigation.
“The FBI has assessed for quite some time that the origins of the pandemic are likely a possible laboratory incident in Wuhan,” Wray told Fox News host Bret Baier.
“I’ll just make the point that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing everything they can to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing, the work that our US government and close foreign partners are doing. they are doing, and that is unfortunate for everyone,» he added.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The US Department of Energy concluded with «low confidence» that the covid pandemic «probably» originated from a laboratory leak in Wuhan, according to a classified report delivered to key lawmakers on the intelligence committees of the House and the Senate.
Lawmakers were briefed on the report last month by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, two sources said Sunday. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Baier noted that the Department of Energy had cited earlier FBI findings in its report.
A report on the origins of Covid, commissioned by President Joe Biden and released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in August 2021, showed that a US intelligence agency had assessed with moderate confidence that the virus infected humans after a laboratory-related incident; four other agencies assessed with little confidence that the virus arose naturally. The report did not name the agencies, but intelligence officials said the FBI was the agency with moderate confidence.
Sources have said that the CIA is one of two intelligence agencies that have not decided on the origins of the virus.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mao Ning, said on Tuesday that China has «always been open and transparent» about Covid.
Mao previously criticized the Energy Department’s assessment, pointing to a 2021 report from a World Health Organization mission to Wuhan that found it «extremely unlikely» that the virus originated in a laboratory. The United States and other countries have criticized the report, saying China withheld data.
Wray touted the work of the FBI investigators in the Fox News interview, noting that they include virologists and microbiologists.
He said that «there are not many details that I can share that are not classified» and that «our work related to this is continuing.»
The classified report from the Department of Energy maintains the consensus that Covid was not the result of a Chinese bioweapon, a US official has said. In its assessment, the Department of Energy also described the «probable» lab-related leak as an «accident,» the official added.
The Department of Energy is one of 18 government departments and agencies that make up the US intelligence community.
A spokesperson said in a statement over the weekend that the Department of Energy «continues to support the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals in investigating the origins of COVID-19, as directed by the President.»
Lawmakers said Tuesday it was important to discover the origins of the virus.
“The main reason to understand where this pandemic came from is so that we can prevent a future pandemic from happening. It’s not to play gotcha,» said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, who chairs a select committee on China. «But [China] He must be held accountable for his cover-up.»
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said that «China is obviously very threatened by this,» but that «the lab leak story is not anti-Chinese.»
“It’s just that you’re trying to get to the bottom so you can prevent the next one,” he said.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said confirmation of the lab leak theory «would have an impact» on US policy.
“There has been an attempt to discredit that theory of origin, which I have never understood. For me we should want to know where the origin was. And we must also protest to the country, China in this case, for trying to cover this up, because it delayed our ability to respond to the pandemic,” he said.