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Judicial Watch Sues DHS for Records on Grant from U.S. Biological Defense Program to EcoHealth Alliance

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for records and communications between DHS component offices and the U.S. Biological Defense Program regarding a $2 million grant awarded by the DHS’s Ground Truth Network to EcoHealth Alliance (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:23-cv-01855)). EcoHealth Alliance is implicated in using tax dollars for “gain-of-function” coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute for Virology and elsewhere in China.

The lawsuit names the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) and the Office of Health Affairs, which are part of DHS’s U.S. Biological Defense Program, which DHS states was established to increase the U.S.’s “preparedness against chemical and biological threats through improved threat awareness, advanced surveillance and detection, and responsive countermeasures.” The Ground Truth Network was set up under the National Biosurveillance Integration Center.

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after DHS failed to respond to a February 17, 2023, FOIA request for:

Records and communications of the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), Office of Health Affairs, DHS of the following current or former employees (1) Heather Poindexter, (2) LCDR Reajul Mojumder, (3) Teresa Quitugua, regarding: 

A.              Ground Truth Network Project

B.               PIID HSHQDC16C00113

C.               HSHQDC16C00113

D.              HSHQDC-16-R-00116

E.               EcoHealth Alliance interface with NBIC analysts through written documents (e.g., emails, written reports, maps, data, etc.), oral communication (e.g., phone calls, conference call, etc.), and face-to-face meetings.

F.               Any requests for information (RFIs) sent to EcoHealth Alliance and any responses to RFIs from EcoHealth Alliance

G.              Plans detailing Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) available to NBIC and the process for direct and indirect communications with SMEs

H.              Credibility of the source(s) from whom any information was obtained under Ground Truth Network

I.                 Concurrence and / or Closeout letters from DHS to EcoHealth Alliance

 This requests also includes communications or interface of DHS NBIC employees with the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS I&A) regarding:

1.                Construction or editing of the Ground Truth Network RFP, grant or contract

2.                Information shared between NBIC and DHS I&A received from EcoHealth Alliance or Ground Truth Network 

According to the USASpending.gov federal database, the grant (PIID HSHQDC16C00113) awarded to EcoHealth Alliance was awarded in September 2016 with a potential end date of October 2022. Of the $2.1 million potential award, $974,298 was awarded. It was closed out in October 2021.

Lt. Commander Reajul Mojumder, Project Officer at DHS’s Bio-Preparedness Collaboratory, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office, was managing the grant to EcoHealth Alliance, according to the database. Mojumder was later replaced by Teresa Quitugua, deputy director and chief scientist of National Biosurveillance Integration Center, Maryland.

“This U.S. government secretive grant to EcoHealth Alliance on ‘biosafety’ deserves a full accounting, especially given the ongoing ‘gain-of-function’ scandal in Wuhan,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Through FOIA, Judicial Watch has uncovered a substantial amount of information about the COVID-19 controversy, including information about the role of EcoHealth Alliance in conducting “gain-of-function” bat coronavirus research in China with U.S. tax dollars:

  • HHS records included the initial grant application and annual reports to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from EcoHealth Alliance, describing the aim of its work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China to create mutant viruses “to better predict the capacity of our CoVs [coronaviruses] to infect people.”
  • HHS records included emails of then-Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins showing a British physicians’ group recommended the use of Ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID-19.
  • Heavily redacted HHS records showed that just two days prior to FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine a discussion was held between U.S. and UK health regulators regarding the COVID shot and “anaphylaxis,” with the regulators emphasizing their “mutual confidentiality agreement.”
  • Judicial Watch obtained HHS records regarding data Moderna submitted to the FDA on its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, which indicated a “statistically significant” number of rats were born with skeletal deformations after their mothers were injected with the vaccine. The documents also revealed Moderna elected not to conduct a number of standard pharmacological studies on the laboratory test animals.
  • Heavily redacted records from the FDA regarding the COVID-19 booster vaccine detailed pressure on COVID booster use and approval.
  • HHS records detailed internal discussions about myocarditis and the COVID vaccine. Other documents detail adverse “events for which a contributory effect of the vaccine could not be excluded.”
  • Judicial Watch uncovered HHS records detailing the extensive media plans for a Biden administration propaganda campaign to push the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • HHS records revealed previously redacted locations of COVID-19 vaccine testing facilities in Shanghai, China. The FDA had claimed the name and location of the testing facilities were protected by the confidential commercial information exemption of the FOIA.
  • NIH records showed an FBI “inquiry” into the NIH’s controversial bat coronavirus grant tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The records also show National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials were concerned about “gain-of-function” research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2016. The Fauci agency was also concerned about EcoHealth Alliance’s lack of compliance with reporting rules and use of gain-of-function research in the NIH-funded research involving bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.
  • Texas Public Information Act (PIA) records showed the former director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Dr. James W. Le Duc, warned Chinese researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology of potential investigations into the COVID issue by Congress.
  • HHS records regarding biodistribution studies and related data for the COVID-19 vaccines showed how a key component of the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), were found outside the injection site, mainly the liver, adrenal glands, spleen and ovaries of test animals, eight to 48 hours after injection.
  • Records obtained from HHS through a FOIA lawsuit related to hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 revealed that a grant to EcoHealth Alliance was cancelled because of press reports that a portion of the grant was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
  • HHS records revealed that from 2014 to 2019, $826,277 was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research by the NIAID.
  • NIAID records showed that it gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the NIH’s top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself. The records also included an email from the vice director of the Wuhan Lab asking an NIH official for help finding disinfectants for decontamination of airtight suits and indoor surfaces.
  • HHS records included an “urgent for Dr. Fauci ” email chain, citing ties between the Wuhan lab and the taxpayer-funded EcoHealth Alliance. The government emails also reported that the foundation of U.S. billionaire Bill Gates worked closely with the Chinese government to pave the way for Chinese-produced medications to be sold outside China and help “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”
  • HHS records included a grant application for research involving the coronavirus that appears to describe “gain-of-function” research involving RNA extractions from bats, experiments on viruses, attempts to develop a chimeric virus and efforts to genetically manipulate the full-length bat SARSr-CoV WIV1 strain molecular clone.
  • HHS records showed the State Department and NIAID knew immediately in January 2020 that China was withholding COVID data, which was hindering risk assessment and response by public health officials.
  • HHS records show that NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020.
  • Fauci emails include his approval of a press release supportive of China’s response to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

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