We’ve got some big news about our investigation into the National Institutes of Health shipping taxpayer dollars to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology for dangerous and wasteful animal experiments: We aren’t the only ones looking into this misuse of your funds.
As the National Review first reported, there’s now a law enforcement investigation, as well.
— National Review (@NRO) June 1, 2020
Here’s the background: As you likely already know, shortly after we released our blockbuster exposé about the NIH’s spending on animal experiments at the Wuhan virus lab, the funding was cut. (!!!)
This incredible victory for taxpayers and animals isn’t the end of our investigation, though. We’ve continued to demand answers from the U.S. government.
About a month and a half ago, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NIH for all emails, text messages, memos, and reports related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and all correspondence with State Department officials regarding their 2018 assessment that the lab’s coronavirus animal experiments that were funded by taxpayers could cause a global pandemic.
We just got a response. And it’s…interesting.
NIH: We Can’t Release Our Papers about the Wuhan Institute of Virology Because of a Pending Investigation https://t.co/mSUfJmMcyN
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) June 1, 2020
The National Institutes of Health tells us in a letter they will not release information about the taxpayer dollars it gave to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for animal experiments because the “records you requested involve pending investigations” and the law “permits the withholding of investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes when disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”
Here’s the National Review again, on how the NIH’s response opens as many questions as it answers:
“It is unclear if the NIH review is the ‘pending investigation’ and ‘law enforcement proceedings’ referred to in the FOIA response, or whether there is a separate U.S. criminal investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The National Institutes of Health has its own police force to secure its facilities, but the Department of Health and Human Services refers violations of civil or criminal law to the Department of Justice.”
It’s not unusual for government agencies to stonewall public records requests. (See, e.g., our brand new lawsuit against the Department of Justice for withholding information about its sick “live tissue training” exercises.) This is certainly a new direction, however. We’ll keep pressing for answers, and we will keep you informed as we learn new information.
In the meantime, if you haven’t yet, please sign our petition to cut all future taxpayer funding for animal tests at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and at other foreign institutions.