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Intentional Spread of Coronavirus Could Face Criminal Charges Under US Federal Terrorism Laws

Image for representation only. (REUTERS)

Image for representation only. (REUTERS)

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen wrote a memo saying prosecutors and investigators could come across cases of “purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19.

The US Justice Department on Tuesday said that those who attempt to spread the coronavirus intentionally could face criminal charges under federal terrorism laws.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen wrote a memo to top Justice Department leaders, Law enforcement agency chiefs and US Attorneys across the country, saying prosecutors and investigators could come across cases of “purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19.”

“Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” Rosen wrote. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated,” US magazine Politico quoted Rosen.

He did not specify if any such case has been reported or if his warning was simply precautionary.

The Justice Department has also offered guidance on how to deal with “purposeful exposure and infection of others.”

Meanwhile, faced with hoarding and price gouging related to essential supplies, the Justice Department also set up a task force to address the issue.

first published:March 25, 2020, 18:17 IST