19:20 GMT08 April 2020
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    A US Department of Justice memo reveals that people who deliberately spread COVID-19 could face federal terrorism charges for “purposeful exposure and infection.”

    In the memo addressed to law enforcement agency chiefs and US attorneys, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said that “because coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes.”

    “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated,” Rosen added.

    However, Rosen did not clarify whether there have been any reported cases of purposeful coronavirus infection or the memo was just precautionary. 

    According to a report by The Hill, New Jersey local George Falcone, 50, was charged Tuesday with making a terroristic threat for coughing on a Wegmans grocery store employee after claiming he had the coronavirus. Falcone could face up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $26,000.

    The FBI released an alert last Thursday stating that white supremacists are encouraging members who have become infected with COVID-19 to spread the virus to police officers and Jewish people.

    According to the FBI’s New York office, the law enforcement agency has gathered intelligence that reveals that "members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions."

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group whose mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” also reported earlier this month that some extremists online are claiming that Jewish people are “responsible for creating the virus, are spreading it to increase their control over a decimated population” and “profiting off it.”

    During a briefing at the White House Monday, US Attorney General Bill Barr said that hoarding and price gouging of supplies to combat the virus, such as protective masks, is illegal and that those who are found guilty of engaging in such behaviors will be prosecuted.

    The latest data by World Meters reveals that there are more than 63,000 cases of the virus in the US, and almost 900 people have died as a result.

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    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, charges, terrorism, U.S. Department of Justice
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