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Scientist fired from Winnipeg disease lab intentionally worked to benefit China: CSIS report

One of the scientists who was fired from Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory “intentionally” shared scientific information with China, says an assessment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).  

The intelligence assessment was released late Wednesday afternoon by the federal government, along with hundreds of other documents about the mysterious dismissal of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng.

The scientists were marched out of the Winnipeg-based National Microbiology Lab (NML) in July 2019. Their dismissals were announced in January 2021, triggering concerns about Chinese espionage and leading to heated demands in Parliament for more information.

According to the documents, CSIS conducted multiple security screenings of the couple.

The document says the service had a more rosy initial assessment of Qiu’s motivation, noting that she could be “susceptible … based on the belief in the power of science to help humanity.”

But as the investigation went deeper, CSIS accused Qiu of being associated with multiple “talent programs” administered and funded by various Chinese entities.

Those programs are set up to “boost China’s national technological capabilities and may pose a serious threat to research institutions, including government research facilities, by incentivizing economic espionage and theft of intellectual property,” said CSIS in the report.

CSIS said that by January 2021, it was concerned about Qiu’s “close and clandestine relationships
with a variety of entities of the PRC, which is a known security threat to Canada.”

The service also called out her “reckless judgement regarding decisions that could have impacted public safety and the interests of Canada.”

“The service assesses that Ms. Qiu developed deep, cooperative relationships with a variety of People’s Republic of China (PRC) institutions and has intentionally transferred scientific knowledge and materials to China in order to benefit the PRC Government, and herself, without regard for the implications to her employer or to Canada’s interests,” CSIS wrote.

More to come …

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