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Steve Bannon-Linked Groups Push Study Claiming China Manufactured COVID

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A new study purporting to show that the novel coronavirus was manufactured in a Chinese lab was published by a pair of nonprofit groups linked to Steve Bannon, the former top Trump strategist now facing felony fraud charges.

The study, co-authored by a Chinese virologist who fled Hong Kong this year, claims that “laboratory manipulation is part of the history of SARS-CoV-2.” Its findings were quickly picked up by a handful of prominent news organizations such as the New York Post, which hyped the “explosive” allegations that run counter to virtually all existing scientific literature on the source of the virus.

The study is the work of the Rule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation, sister nonprofit organizations that Bannon was instrumental in creating. According to documents posted on the Society’s website last year, he served as that group’s chair. The Bannon connection was first spotted by Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington, who called the study “bizarre and unfounded.”

A search of Google Scholar and the Rule of Law Society and Rule of Law Foundation websites indicates that the organizations have not previously published scientific or medical research, and it’s unclear whether the paper received any peer review. It was posted on Monday on the website Zenodo, a publicly available repository of scientific and academic research to which anyone can upload their work.

Both of the nonprofits behind the study were formed in conjunction with exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, with whom Bannon has collaborated on a number of advocacy efforts targeting the Chinese government and business endeavors that have drawn the scrutiny of federal law enforcement officials.