Intelligence agencies in the United Kingdom now believe it is “feasible” that the Covid-19 causing coronavirus leaked from a Chinese research laboratory.
British spies are now seeking to recruit sources on the dark web as they begin investigating the possible leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which has been in the focus since Covid-19 hit the world.
According to a report by The Sunday Times, sources said that while the United Kingdom intelligence was initially sceptical of the theory that somehow the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from Wuhan lab, now they believe that there is a reasonable possibility.
Last week, United States President Joe Biden ordered his American intelligence agencies to investigate the lab leak theory, as well as other possible sources of the SARS-CoV-2 and asked for a report within 90 days.
However, the British intelligence agencies are also working alongside the United States to find the truth.
But as per the report, the intelligence agents have a limited human source of information in China and the lack of transparency in the country makes the investigation more challenging.
Western intelligence sources have explained the difficulty level due to the Chinese secrecy.
A source familiar with the investigation by the United Kingdom told the news outlet: “There might be pockets of evidence that take us one way and evidence that takes us another way.”
“The Chinese will lie either way. I don’t think we will ever know,” the source added.
To gather enough data the intelligence agents are now trying to recruit resources on the dark web, where Chinese employees can share details anonymously.
Why Dark Web
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) closely monitors and controls the content on the internet in the country.
Over the years, authorities have blocked many VPNs that citizens had used to avoid the “Great Firewall”, which is an initiative managed by the Ministry of Public Security division of the Chinese government to regulate the internet domestically.
Launched in 1998, the Great Firewall is continuously improving restriction techniques through several methods to prevent the free sharing of information across the country.
When coronavirus first spread through China, many Chinese people turned to GitHub—the world’s largest open-source software site—for Covid-19 related information.
In 2020, according to reports, a group of Chinese volunteers who worked to prevent digital records of the coronavirus outbreak from being removed from GitHub by censors, became the targets of a crackdown and some of them were arrested by police.
Such secrecy not only helps the CCP to hide crucial information from the West but also its own citizens.
But when it comes to the darknet or deep web, it is a space where people can speak freely without the fear of repercussions, including those who are living behind the Great Firewall of China.
One of the administrators of such forum called "Chinese dark web" wrote: "This is a free Chinese Internet world, here you can speak whatever is on your mind."
In 2021, the expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO) failed to find a conclusive answer for the Covid-19 origin, even after investigating in China and specifically Wuhan.
As a result, many people are demanding a stricter investigation as they understood that WHO’s investigation was jeopardized by the Chinese authorities, limiting access to critical data.
Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor University and a leading expert on the Covid-19 said on 30 May: “There’s going to be Covid-26 and Covid-32 unless we fully understand the origins of Covid-19.”
So, the idea of using the darknet, which is usually known as the den of cybercriminals, by the intelligence agencies could help to unveil the truth behind the Covid-19 pandemic.
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