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Former CSIS Chief Fadden Suggests Winnipeg Lab Scientists’ Full Access Should Have Been Revoked After Red Flags

The former head of Canada’s intelligence agency believes that the scientists from the Winnipeg lab who were eventually dismissed due to undisclosed ties to the Chinese regime should not have had continued full access to Canada’s highest-security lab after they were flagged for security concerns.

Mr. Fadden, a former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and a former national security adviser to the prime minister, expressed his view at a House of Commons committee meeting on May 3. He mentioned that the scientists should have had their physical and electronic access restricted if they were to remain on the job.

Security concerns regarding scientists Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Cheng at the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg were first discussed between CSIS and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in August 2018, according to recently declassified documents. These concerns ultimately led to their removal from the lab in July 2019 and their termination in January 2021.

One of the initial incidents that raised concerns was Ms. Qiu filing a patent in China in October 2017 related to her research at the Winnipeg lab.

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During the investigation period, Ms. Qiu facilitated the shipment of deadly virus strands to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) with the approval of Winnipeg lab management, visited and provided training at the WIV, engaged in secret projects involving risky gain-of-function research, and filed another patent in China.

Additionally, concerns were raised about visitors at NML and Mr. Cheng’s unsupervised guests, as well as unauthorized access to facilities. CSIS highlighted the scientists’ participation in China’s talent programs and collaborations with Chinese military leaders involved in bioterrorism research.

Health minister and PHAC management defended the timeline in addressing the issues, citing the need for due process in personnel matters.

Deputy Privy Council clerk Nathalie Drouin, who testified before MPs, acknowledged the need to review the timeline regarding the scientists.

Mr. Fadden emphasized the importance of restricting access and implementing security measures during ongoing investigations rather than immediate removal from the lab.

Since their dismissal from the NML, Ms. Qiu and Mr. Cheng have been conducting research in China with organizations linked to the Chinese military, using aliases and filing more patents as reported by The Epoch Times.

Virus Shipment

Mr. Fadden criticized the approval of deadly virus shipments to WIV, stating that it violated rules and proper procedures. CSIS documents suggested that some virus samples were intended for Ms. Qiu’s projects at WIV without the knowledge of Winnipeg lab management.

PHAC maintained that the shipments were done in accordance with protocols.

Culture Change

Mr. Fadden called for a cultural shift within government departments to effectively address national security threats posed by hostile regimes like the Chinese Communist Party. He stressed the need for leadership to drive this change.

He urged cabinet ministers and senior public servants not to prioritize scientific collaboration over security concerns and advocated for increased sharing of security intelligence among organizations to enhance national security awareness.

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