The Swiss embassy said it had to inform the Chinese public of the false news
COVID-19 origin tracing: Claim emerges of ‘intimidation’ from the U.S.
(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)
(CGTN) 16:27, July 30, 2021
A European biologist has come to the fore with a startling claim that a World Health Organization (WHO) advisory group on tracing the origins of pathogens, including the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, would become a “political tool.”
Bearing the name Wilson Edwards, the person took to social media, including Facebook and Twitter, on July 24 to describe how much he was worried about the”WHO’s independence.”
On July 16, the WHO announced establishing the International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO), which Edwards said is a result of political pressure from the U.S.
Edwards went on to say that some of his fellow researchers were under “enormous pressure” and “intimidation” from the U.S. and some media outlets after they voiced support for the conclusions of the China-WHO joint study on the origins of COVID-19 in central China’s Wuhan.
Edwards claimed that the U.S. was seeking to discredit the qualifications of the scientists involved in the study.
“The U.S. is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings,” Edwards quoted a WHO source as saying.
China: Swiss embassy urges media to remove scientist fake news
By Suranjana Tewari
Broadcast Journalist at BBC News. More
August 10, 2021
The Swiss embassy in China has urged Chinese media to take down articles and posts it says contain “false” news.
In a Twitter post, the embassy said an alleged Swiss biologist who had been quoted in Chinese media in recent days likely did not exist.
State media outlets were among those that carried articles with comments from “Wilson Edwards” on the origins of Covid-19 and the WHO’s independence.
Many outlets have since removed any reference to him.
“While we appreciate the attention on our country, the Embassy of Switzerland must unfortunately inform the Chinese public that this news is false,” the Swiss embassy said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Organisations including CGTN, Shanghai Daily and Global Times had cited the so-called biologist based on his Facebook profile.
However, the Swiss embassy said the Facebook account was opened two weeks ago and only had three friends.
“It is likely that this Facebook account was not opened for social networking purposes,” the Swiss embassy added.
The mission said that there was no registry of a Swiss citizen with the name “Wilson Edwards” and no academic articles under the name.
Twitter Embassy of Switzerland:
Looking for Wilson Edwards, alleged 🇨🇭 biologist, cited in press and social media in China over the last several days. If you exist, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is a fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts.
Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing
(@SwissEmbChina) August 10, 2021
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In one article seen by the BBC before it was altered, “Wilson Edwards” is referred to as a biologist in Switzerland.
The line from the China Daily article reads: “[Wilson Edwards] said on his Facebook account: ‘As a biologist, I’ve witnessed in consternation over the past months how the origin-tracing of Covid-19 was politicized.'”
In the altered version, all reference to Wilson Edwards were removed.
Shanghai Daily’s digital platform Shine had said in a post: “A European biologist has come to the fore with a startling claim that a World Health Organization (WHO) advisory group on tracing the origins of pathogens including the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, would become a “political tool”.
It added that the biologist was worried about the “WHO’s independence” and quotes him as saying “the US is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings”.
The Swiss embassy assured readers that it assumed the spreading of the story was done in good faith but “kindly asked” for the stories to be taken down or corrected.
State media that have cited “Wilson Edwards” include:
People’s Daily (as shown alongside), China Daily, Global Times and CGTN.
Some have deleted the articles, some have not.
So far there is no retraction or explanation of any kind.
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