Steve Bannon claims that scientists from the Wuhan lab, suspected as a possible source for the coronavirus pandemic, have “defected” and are working with Western intelligence agencies.
Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s White House chief strategist, told The Daily Mail that spies were building a case against Beijing on the basis that the global pandemic had been caused by a leak from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan.
Claims about a laboratory leak have been vehemently dismissed by the Chinese authorities as ‘conspiracy theories’ and Beijing has denied any kind of a cover-up.
Mail Online reports: Mr Bannon, 66, who worked as a naval officer, investment banker and film producer before becoming chief executive officer of Trump’s presidential campaign, describes himself as an ‘ultra-hawk’ on China, arguing that Western countries should work together to bring down the ‘brutal, authoritarian’ regime.
His incendiary claims about the source of the virus, which has so far claimed more than 560,000 lives worldwide, came as Western governments gather growing evidence to challenge Beijing’s original claim that the infection first spread from a market.
Even the Chinese government’s own Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recently admitted that the virus had been brought in to the market, rather than originating there.
Mr Bannon, who has been tipped by the US media for a return to Trump’s inner circle to shore up his faltering campaign for re-election, said: ‘I know that certain defectors are working with the FBI here to try to knit together what happened’ in the Wuhan institute, which he said was ‘horribly run and terribly mismanaged’.
He claimed: ‘They are not talking to the media yet, but there are people out of the Wuhan lab and other labs that have come to the West and are turning over evidence of the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party. I think people are going to be shocked’.
Mr Bannon, who sat on the US National Security Council during his time in the White House, says spies are trying to assemble a case that the virus spread as the result of an accident involving experiments to develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs to deal with Sars-style viruses.
Speaking to this newspaper from a yacht off the East coast of America, Mr Bannon said that defectors were talking to the intelligence agencies in America, Europe and the UK.
He said: ‘I think that they [spy agencies] have electronic intelligence, and that they have done a full inventory of who has provided access to that lab. I think they have very compelling evidence. And there have also been defectors.
‘People around these labs have been leaving China and Hong Kong since mid-February. [US intelligence] along with MI5 and MI6 are trying to build a very thorough legal case, which may take a long time. It’s not like James Bond.’