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Rumors have spread across social media over the past 48 hours claiming Shi Zhengli and her family escaped from China, bringing hundreds of confidential documents to the U.S. embassy in Paris.
However, Shi, a renowned researcher of bat coronaviruses, wrote on WeChat, a Chinese messaging service, on Saturday that she and her family had not fled the country.
"Everything is all right for my family and me, dear friends!" She also posted nine photos of her recent life.
"No matter how difficult things are, it (defecting) shall never happen. We've done nothing wrong. With strong belief in science, we will see the day when the clouds disperse and the sun shines."
The Global Times, a nationalistic paper published with approval from the Chinese Communist Party, first reported on Shi’s public statement. Despite the paper’s ties to the ruling party, the story has been published by South China Morning Post, The Week, and International Business Times.
Shi is a renowned virologist, best known for her work with bat coronaviruses at her lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). She discovered the natural bat reservoir for the Sars pathogen that spread in southern China from 2002 to 2003.
Rumors in mid-April claimed that Shi had been "muzzled" by the government following the initial outbreak.
Shi has been under heavy scrutiny amid concerns that the virus had originated from the Wuhan lab. On February 2, Shi posted that "I promise with my life that the virus has nothing to do with the lab" in a response to an article about the pandemic's origins.
Her intervention comes after it emerged that a research dossier compiled by the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance states that China intentionally hid or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives around the world,
The 15-page document from the intelligence agencies of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, was obtained by Australia's Saturday Telegraph newspaper and states that China's secrecy amounted to an “assault on international transparency."