China Arrests Mother of Chinese Dissident Virologist Who Blamed Beijing for Virus Coverup

Chinese authorities recently arrested the mother of a Chinese virologist who spoke out about Beijing’s coverup of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yan Limeng fled Hong Kong and sought asylum in the United States in April. She recently released a paper that she co-authored, claiming that the “biological characteristics” of the virus suggest it did not originate from nature. The study has not been peer-reviewed.

Yan confirmed her mother’s arrest with The Epoch Times on Oct. 5 but declined to provide further details.

Yan was born in the city of Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong Province. A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hong Kong before coming to the United States, Yan had worked at the university’s public health laboratory, which provides coronavirus research for the World Health Organization. On Dec. 31 last year, after Chinese authorities acknowledged dozens of infection cases in Wuhan, her supervisor asked her to conduct a “secret investigation” through her network in mainland China, she said in a prior interview.

Her boss soon took her off the case but then requested her input again not long after—with a warning not to “cross the red line,” she said.

The research, she said, led her to conclude that the situation was far grimmer than what Beijing had admitted and she began secretly delivering the information to the Western world.

Fearing retaliation for speaking out, she fled Hong Kong. Chinese authorities threatened her family in mainland China, while Hong Kong police pried information about her from all her friends, claiming that she was “involved in a criminal case,” she said.

The scientific community has pushed back on her claims after she linked the virus’ origins to a lab in Wuhan in her latest paper, with some calling it speculative. Twitter quickly banned her account after she announced the paper in a tweet.

The University of Hong Kong acknowledged Yan was a former employee at the university, but disavowed any of Yan’s “past or present opinions and views” in a July 11 press release following her first interview with U.S. media.