The State Department’s former lead investigator who oversaw the Task Force into the COVID-19 virus origin told Fox News that he not only believes the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but that it may have been the result of research that the Chinese military, or People’s Liberation Army, was doing on a bioweapon.

“The Wuhan Institute of Virology is not the National Institute of Health,” David Asher, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute told Fox News in an exclusive interview. “It was operating a secret, classified program. In my view, and I’m just one person, my view is it was a biological weapons program.”

Asher led the team that uncovered the international nuclear procurement network run by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, AQ Khan, and uncovered key parts of North Korea’s secret uranium enrichment. He believes the Chinese Communist Party has been involved in a massive cover-up during the past 14 months.

“And if you believe, as I do, that this might have been a weapons vector gone awry, not deliberately released, but in development and then somehow leaked, this has turned out to be the greatest weapon in history,” Asher said during a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute: The Origins of the COVID-19: Policy Implications and Lessons for the Future. “You’ve taken out 15 to 20 percent of global GDP. You’ve killed millions of people. The Chinese population has been barely affected. Their economies roared back to being number one in the entire G20.”

Asher says the Chinese government’s behavior reminds him of other criminal investigations he has overseen.

“Motive, cover-up, conspiracy, all the hallmarks of guilt are associated with this. And the fact that the initial cluster of victims surrounded the very institute that was doing the highly dangerous, if not dubious research is significant,” said Asher, who engaged the Chinese government as the State Department’s lead representative during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

At first, China said that the COVID-19 virus emerged in the Wuhan Seafood Industry – but the issue with China’s hypothesis is that the first case had no market relation. Last fall, the US acquired intelligence that suggests an outbreak among many Wuhan lab scientists with flu-like symptoms that left them hospitalized in November 2019 – before China announced its first case.

The Chinese stopped talking publicly about their research at the Wuhan lab in 2016. That, Asher believes, is when the People’s Liberation Army stepped in and went from biodefense research to bio-offense. The same year China’s top state television commentator

“We have entered into an area of Chinese biowarfare, and including using things like viruses. I mean, they made a public statement to their people that this is a new priority under the Xi national security policy,” Asher points out.

The Chinese, according to Asher, stopped talking publicly about the research into coronavirus “disease vectors which could be used for weapons” in 2017, at the same time its military began funding the research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“I doubt that that’s a coincidence,” Asher said.

Biosafety has long been a concern with respect to China’s biosafety level 4 labs, according to experts.

“China has been involved in this type of virus research since 2003, the SARS outbreak,” according to Miles Yu, the State Department official who co-wrote a recent op-ed in the WSJ with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the virus origins. “China’s biosafety standard is really low and is very dangerous. So this is an accident waiting to happen.”

More stories: