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DOJ memo: Intentionally exposing others to coronavirus is an act of terror

A memo from the Deputy Attorney General details how law enforcement should respond to coronavirus related act of crime

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The Department of Justice seal
The Department of Justice seal
(Brendan Smialowksi / Getty Images)
Updated: March 25, 2020 - 3:09pm

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Individuals threatening to infect others with coronavirus could be held liable for charges of terrorism, warns the office of U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

Rosen's office made the announcement in a memo sent Tuesday to heads of law-enforcement agencies, litigation divisions and U.S. attorneys across the country. Also addressed in the memo are a variety of coronavirus-related criminal activity that have been seen and reported during the pandemic – including purposeful exposing or infecting others with the virus.

“Because coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’ … such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statues,” the memo states.

The other types of crime detailed in the memo include, the sales of fake medical testing kits, fraudulent offers to sell respirators, coronavirus related apps and website that install viruses, and social media hoaxes requesting donations and personal banking information.

The Justice Department and local law enforcement agencies are on high-alert regarding coronavirus crime, “threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated," according to the memo.