Coronavirus: People who intentionally spread Covid-19 could be charged as terrorists

People who spread the coronavirus on purpose could be charged under existing laws, says the no.2 Justice Department official

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 25 March 2020 14:12 GMT
FBI director says extremist terrorism threats are 'unrelenting'

Americans could face criminal charges for spreading the coronavirus under current US anti-terrorism laws, according to the Justice Department’s second highest official.

US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen suggested on Tuesday that the intentional spreading of coronavirus could be considered an act of terrorism.

According to Politico, a memo sent by Mr Rosen to Justice Department officials and attorneys nationwide, said that prosecutors and investigators could come across cases of “purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19.”

Rosen warned: “Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes”

“Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated”, he added.

"Police in Warrenton, Missouri, arrested a man after video emerged of the 26-year-old licking toiletries in a Walmart.

The February 17 briefing warned that “White Racially Motivated Violent Extremists have recently commented on the coronavirus stating that it is an ‘OBLIGATION’ to spread it should any of them contract the virus.”

It follows a warning from FBI Director Christopher Wray that the threat of far-right domestic violent extremism was a “national threat priority” for 2020.

Police in Warrenton, Missouri, arrested a man after video emerged of the 26-year-old licking toiletries in a Walmart.

Cody Pfister, 26, who was reported by Snapchat users, was charged with 'knowingly causing a fear involving danger to life existed.'

On Sunday, police arrested George Falcone, 50, after he deliberately coughed on staff at a branch of Wegmans in Manalapan, New Jersey.

Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said of Mr Falcone: “Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible."

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