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Two leading scientists are standing by a pair of researchers fired from Canada’s only Level-4 virology lab, instead pointing the finger at issues inside the Winnipeg-based facility itself. Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and her biologist husband, Keding Cheng, were stripped of their security clearances and escorted from the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in July 2019. They were then fired in January, though the Public Health Agency of Canada has refused to say why. A RCMP investigation is also ongoing; no charges have been laid. For months, opposition MPs have been demanding answers about the couple’s dismissal and the removal of the Chinese students they were working with, asking whether it could be linked to espionage. PHAC and government officials have remained tight-lipped about the dismissal, initially citing privacy legislation, but more recently saying that case involves national security concerns. Now two former colleagues are speaking out, saying that speculation is wrong.

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