Larry Klayman, the co-founder of the conservative groups Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, has sued the Chinese government, alleging that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a Chinese bioweapon that made its way around the world.
The suit relies on tabloid news articles that succeeded in spreading the now-popular conspiracy theory that the disease originated as a man-made biological weapon — a theory that’s been debunked repeatedly for weeks by public health officials and medical experts.
“Although it appears that the COVID-19 virus was released at an unplanned, unexpected time, it was prepared and stockpiled as a biological weapon to be used against China’s perceived enemies, including but not limited to the people of the United States,” the suit reads.
That claim conflicts with epidemiologists and public health officials worldwide who assert the virus that causes COVID-19 came from the natural world, not a Chinese lab.
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” an international group of public health scientists wrote in the medical journal Lancet in mid-February, as the conspiracy gained steam.
“Scientists from multiple countries have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens,” the scientists wrote.
Klayman’s suit also lists as plaintiffs his group Freedom Watch and and Buzz Photos, a high school sports photography company in North Texas. It lists the Chinese military and the Wuhan Institute of Virology as defendants, in addition to the Chinese government. The suit demands a jury trial and damages “in excess of $20 trillion.”
According to Klayman, China and the government lab in Wuhan materially supported an act of international terrorism, violated international agreements against biological warfare and conspired to kill Americans.
Neither Klayman nor the Chinese embassy immediately returned TPM’s request for comment.
Conspiracies about COVID-19 were first broadcast to mass audiences through since-debunked or speculative articles in publications like the Washington Times and the New York Post, both of which were cited in Klayman’s suit.
They’ve also been buoyed by government officials, like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), who in February noted during an interview, “we also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”
Read the suit below: