April 21, 2024

A leading research scientist at Canada’s top security laboratory provided confidential scientific information to Chinese institutions, secretly met with officials and posed a realistic and credible threat to Canadas economic security” according to newly released intelligence reports.

The firing of Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, has been shrouded in mystery since the couple were escorted from Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory in 2019 and formally fired two years later.

Intelligence assessments released late Wednesday afternoon alleged that Qiu’s “new and secret relationships” with Chinese institutions that showed “reckless judgment” could have harmed Canada’s national security. The assessments were among more than 600 documents released after a long battle with opposition lawmakers demanding information behind the dismissals.

CSIS, Canada’s intelligence agency, concluded that Qiu repeatedly lied in interviews with security investigators about her relationship with research institutions linked to the Chinese government. Even when confronted with contradictory evidence, “Ms. Qiu continued to make blanket denials, feign ignorance or tell outright lies.”

In one case, Qiu told investigators a 2018 trip to China was a personal vacation. But she eventually admitted that the trip was paid for by Wuhan Institute for Virology and that she met the senior member of the organization during the trip. Investigators also found evidence of applications from Qiu who agreed to work for the Wuhan Institute of Virology for at least two months each year, with the goal of increasing China’s “biosecurity platform for new and powerful infectious disease research,” according to the CSIS- report.

Qiu admitted she had sent an Ebola sample to China’s National Institute of Food and Drug Control, which was trying to develop an inhibitor for the virus. But she did so without a substantial transfer agreement or collaboration agreement.

Qiu also allowed two employees of a Chinese institution, “whose work is not aligned with Canadian interests” to enter the lab.

Both Qiu and Cheng filed grievances for their dismissal but did not comment on the allegations in the documents. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

In a letter to Cheng, the public health agency said there were “serious concerns” about his “close personal and professional relationship with Xiangguo Qiu” and his “awareness and lack of candor regarding your own activities and those of Xiangguo Qiu with individuals and entities of a foreign government”.

Qiu was told by the health agency that “during the whole [investigative] process, you have not expressed remorse or regret” and at times tried to shift blame to the public health agency.

“You cannot be relied upon not to abuse the trust placed in you and to perform your assigned duties in a manner that will reflect positively on PHAC and not pose a security risk to the Government of Canada and PHAC does not contain,” the agency said.

Canada’s Liberal government has fought the release of the documents for years. The government initially released heavily redacted documents, leaving opposition parties frustrated with what they felt was a lack of candor by Justin Trudeau’s government. A recent united motion by opposition parties finally forced the release of the investigation.

Health Minister Mark Holland acknowledged “a lax adherence to the safeguards and protocols” at the lab, which is overseen by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

But Holland said “at no time” were there any breaches of national secrets or information from the lab.

The Conservative party, currently polling well ahead of the Liberals, has accused the Trudeau government of allowing the Chinese government to infiltrate Canada’s highest-security laboratory.

“This is a massive national security failure by Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government, which he fought tooth and nail to cover up,” said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

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