The Justice Department could prosecute people who intentionally spread the coronavirus under federal terrorism laws, according to a memo issued late Tuesday.
In a memo to Justice Department officials and U.S. Attorneys across the country, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen urged prosecutors to crack down on all coronavirus-related crimes, including intentionally infecting others.
“Because coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’ … such acts could implicate the nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” Mr. Rosen wrote. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon could potentially implicate the nation’s terrorism-related statutes.”
“Threats or attempts to COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated,” he continued.
The memo also asks prosecutors to take a tough stance on other crimes related to the pandemic, including price gouging, scams and the sale of fake drugs.
So far, no individuals have been publicly charged with intentionally spreading the coronavirus. A handful of people around the nation face local charges for falsely claiming they have the virus.