Intentional spread of coronavirus a crime, Justice Department says

The U.S. Justice Department said this week that intentionally infecting others with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, could be prosecuted as criminal activity, Politico reported.

In a March 24 memo obtained by the publication, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen informed heads of law enforcement agencies, Justice Department leaders and U.S. attorneys about potential schemes related to COVID-19.

Mr. Rosen told recipients they "may encounter criminal activity ranging from malicious hoaxes, to threats targeting specific individuals or the general public, to the purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19."

"Because [the] coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent' under [U.S. law], such acts potentially could implicate the nation's terrorism-related statutes," he wrote. "Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated."

U.S. attorneys have received reports of peoples and businesses engaging in fraud and other criminal behavior, Mr. Rosen said. This week, the Justice Department announced it has set up a process for people to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19.

 

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