Wuhan is an enormous industrial center for millions in China. With a population of over 11 million, this sprawling urban giant was, until recently, little known to the average American.

In January though, two stories broke from this same Hubei Province capital. One you're aware of, the coronavirus outbreak. Since January 1, the Chinese government was scrambling to contain both the virus and the news of it. Makeshift hospitals and hastily-made policies were quickly established.

Tens of thousands had contracted the virus and several thousand had died of it. The rest of this story of COVID-19 expands to the international cases that were to soon follow.

The second story began to get our media's attention but seemed to have disappeared soon after the story broke. While it also points to Wuhan, it originates in Boston, Massachusetts.

Harvard University Professor Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, was arrested by the FBI on January 28. Leiber is accused of one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement to federal agents. The subject of his lies is very concerning.

Since 2008, Dr. Leiber was heading up $15 million in federally funded research, most of which is highly classified. "The Leiber Research Group" at Harvard was investigating nanoscience for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Nanoscience is the study of incredibly hard-to-perceive small things. An example would be that a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

Lieber was well aware that he had to disclose any significant foreign financial conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or foreign entities.

According to the Justice Department's statement, Lieber was still working for the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) at the time of his arrest, unbeknownst to Harvard University, as a "strategic scientist."

Here is what else he was for the Chinese Communist government:

"A contractual participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from in or about 2012 to 2017.  China’s Thousand Talents Plan is one of the most prominent Chinese Talent recruit plans that are designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity, and national security. These talent programs seek to lure Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information."  

Leiber was allegedly paid $50,000 per month from 2012-2017, living expenses of $158,000 and $1.5 million to set up a research lab at WUT.

According to the Justice Department, in November of 2018, Dr. Lieber convinced Harvard to falsely tell the National Institutes of Health that Lieber had no affiliation with the WUT after 2012.

Others indicted in this investigation include Yanquing Ye, a lieutenant in the People's Liberation Army and a member of the Chinese Communist Party. In her J1 visa, she lied about her current military service. She is actually not just a student but currently serving in the military at the Chinese National University of Defense Technology. She was gathering information on U.S. military websites and projects while here posing as a typical foreign Boston University student. She is, somehow, currently back in China.

Zaosong Zheng, a Chinese national, was arrested on December 10, 2019, at Boston’s Logan Airport. He's accused by a criminal complaint with attempting to smuggle 21 vials of biological research, apparently from Lieber’s research laboratory, which were then to be brought to Wuhan, China and the WUT. He is currently detained by American authorities.

Two major developments of biological, biohazardous nature from the same Chinese city at the same time. Are they connected?

Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@townsquaremedia.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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