The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an inquiry into the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding of bat research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, newly released emails show.
The interest from the top U.S. intelligence agency adds to the international scrutiny on the Wuhan facility, which houses one of China’s highest-level biosecurity labs that has been considered a possible source of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In preparation for our call on Tuesday, Erik [Stemmy] (cc’d) has provided responses to your initial questions below (also attached),” wrote Ashley Sanders, an investigation officer at the NIH’s division of program integriy, in an email (pdf) dated May 22, 2020 with the subject “Grant Questions – FBI Inquiry,” and directed to FBI agent David Miller.
The email was obtained by government transparency watchdog Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which asked for records of communications, contracts, and agreements with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
The scope of the inquiry is unclear because the rest of the email correspondence, five pages in total, are entirely redacted. But the name of the email attachment “SF 424 AI110964-06 (received date 11/05/2018),” corresponds to the NIH grant “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.”