Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State for records related to an investigation into the origins of COVID by the Bureau of Arms Control and Verification (AVC) (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:21-cv-02147)).
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after the State Department failed to respond to a May 28, 2021, FOIA request for:
All records regarding the investigation into the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and/or COVID-19 by the Bureau of Arms Control and Verification. This request includes, but is not limited to, the following:
All reports created pursuant to the investigation.
All related to the actual or proposed termination of the investigation.
All related records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State. This includes communications with any official, employee, or representative of the World Health Organization, the government of China, and any branch, agency, department, or office of the Federal government.
Judicial Watch filed the FOIA request after it was reported in the media that the Biden administration shut down an investigation by the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control and Verification ordered by the Trump administration in Fall 2020 to “investigate the origins of COVID-19 and whether the virus stemmed from a leak out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China.” On January 15, then-Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a statement saying:
The COVID-19 pandemic was avoidable. Any responsible country would have invited world health investigators to Wuhan within days of an outbreak. China instead refused offers of help – including from the United States – and punished brave Chinese doctors, scientists, and journalists who tried to alert the world to the dangers of the virus. Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.
“The Biden State Department shut down a national security investigation of China’s role in the COVID pandemic,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American public deserves to know why.”
In July 2021, Judicial Watch uncovered emails and other records from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials in connection with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, revealing significant collaborations and funding that began in 2014. The records reveal that NIAID gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself. The records also include an email from the Vice Director of the Wuhan Lab asking an NIH official for help finding disinfectants for decontamination of airtight suits and indoor surfaces.
Also in July 2021, Judicial Watch uncovered CDC records showing that Facebook coordinated closely with the CDC to control the COVID narrative and “misinformation” and that over $3.5 million in free advertising given to the CDC by social media companies.
In June 2021, Judicial Watch revealed that the NIAID under Fauci gave the Wuhan lab $826,000 for bat coronavirus research from 2014 to 2019. Also in June, Judicial Watch announced it filed Freedom of FOIA lawsuits against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the State Department for information on the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
In March 2021, Judicial Watch uncovered emails and other records of Fauci and Dr. H. Clifford Lane from HHS showing that NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020. Additionally, the emails reveal an independent journalist in China pointing out the inconsistent COVID numbers in China to NIAID’s Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects Cliff Lane.
In October 2020, Judicial Watch received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 300 pages of Fauci’s emails, including his approval of a press release supportive of China’s response to the 2019 novel coronavirus.