People intentionally spreading coronavirus could be charged with terrorism, DOJ says

Individuals who intentionally spread the novel...

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 6:15 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 6:30 PM

Individuals who intentionally spread the novel coronavirus could be charged with terrorism for the 'purposeful exposure and infection of others,' a Justice Department memo says.

Writing that the virus 'appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent,' ' Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in the memo to federal law enforcement agencies and US attorneys Tuesday that '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 said.

The memo underscores the aggressive steps the federal government is willing to consider -- and enact -- as the outbreak spreads across the country. The US has more than 64,000 cases of the virus and nearly 900 people have died as of Wednesday afternoon, according to CNN's tally.

'We must do the best we can to protect Americans' rights and safety in this novel and troubling time,' Rosen said.

The deputy attorney general also detailed a 'wide range of fraudulent and criminal' reported schemes related to the pandemic, including robocalls making fraudulent offers to sell respirator masks with no intent of delivery and fake coronavirus apps and websites that install malware.

'Capitalizing on this crisis to reap illicit profits or otherwise preying on Americans is reprehensible and will not be tolerated,' Rosen wrote.

His memo comes after Attorney General William Barr directed federal prosecutors last week to prioritize investigations of fraudsters and hackers exploiting the pandemic.

In that memo sent to US attorneys nationwide, Barr cited reports of fake cures for the virus being sold online and email scams from people posing as public health officials as crimes that 'cannot be tolerated.'

'The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated,' Barr wrote. 'It is essential that the Department of Justice remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.'

Barr also said the 'critical mission' of the Justice Department will continue as the virus shuts down other pillars of American society.

'We will ensure that the Department's law enforcement functions operate effectively during this outbreak. It is vital that we work together to safeguard our justice system and thus the safety and security of our nation,' he said.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 451227

Reported Deaths: 33090
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Queens718187245
Kings673917319
Bronx526664942
Nassau463252201
Suffolk461762011
Westchester378661454
New York331463173
Richmond157861085
Rockland14891675
Orange11835498
Erie11082689
Monroe5925289
Dutchess5084153
Onondaga4253205
Albany3037134
Oneida2378123
Ulster224495
Niagara1733101
Putnam158363
Sullivan157348
Broome147669
Schenectady138348
Saratoga100617
Rensselaer90142
Columbia58237
Chautauqua5479
Madison48917
Ontario46535
Oswego4643
Tompkins3990
Warren36333
Steuben36042
Chemung3493
Fulton33224
Otsego3325
Orleans32554
Herkimer32210
Greene32118
St. Lawrence3194
Genesee3175
Wayne3115
Washington28814
Cattaraugus2556
Chenango2487
Montgomery2294
Tioga22525
Cayuga2022
Livingston2028
Jefferson1640
Cortland1620
Essex1610
Clinton1555
Wyoming1325
Delaware1314
Seneca1053
Allegany991
Schoharie830
Franklin650
Yates627
Lewis500
Schuyler390
Hamilton150
Unassigned016
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