US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is “a significant amount of evidence” that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory, but also says he agrees with US intelligence agencies who say it is not man-made.
“There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Mr Pompeo told ABC America’s This Week.
Mr Pompeo then briefly contradicted a statement issued this week by the top US spy agency that said the virus did not appear to be man-made or genetically modified.
That statement undercut conspiracy theories promoted by anti-China activists and some supporters of President Donald Trump who suggested it was developed in a Chinese government biological weapons laboratory.
“The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Mr Pompeo said.
When the interviewer pointed out that was not the conclusion of US intelligence agencies, Mr Pompeo backtracked, and said: “I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”
The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on Mr Pompeo’s comments.
Thursday’s report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it concurred with “the wide scientific consensus” that the disease was not man-made.
US officials familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis have said for weeks that they do not believe Chinese scientists developed the new coronavirus in a government biological weapons lab from which it then escaped.
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