I’ve written many times about the Chinese propaganda claiming the coronavirus originated in the United States. Today CNN Business reports on the American woman that many conspiracy theorists have dubbed patient zero. Her name is Maatje Benassi and she’s a U.S. Army reservist. She compares what is happening to her to cyber-bullying:
Despite never having tested positive for the coronavirus or experienced symptoms, Benassi and her husband are now subjects of discussion on Chinese social media about the outbreak, including among accounts that are known drivers of large-scale coordinated activities by their followers.
The claims have turned their lives upside down. The couple say their home address has been posted online and that, before they shut down their accounts, their social media inboxes were overrun with messages from believers of the conspiracy.
“It’s like waking up from a bad dream going into a nightmare day after day,” Maatje Benassi told CNN Business in an exclusive interview, the first time she has spoken publicly since being smeared online…
“I want everybody to stop harassing me, because this is cyberbullying to me and it’s gone way out of hand,” Maajte said while fighting back tears.
The story which has been spread on Chinese social media is that the virus did originate in Wuhan but only because of the Military World Games which were held in the city last year. Benassi traveled to Wuhan for the games, which are kind of a military version of the Olympics, where she competed in a cycling competition.
Unfortunately it’s not just the CCP that has been spreading this claim. An American YouTuber named George Webb has also been pushing this in English. Webb actually published his side of a call from the CNN reporter behind this story on this channel. At the time he claimed to have a confidential source however, looking at the video now the description reads (no link for this guy):
I am officially retracting my earlier reporting that Maatje Benassi tested positive for CoronaVirus. I realize now I was being fed bad information to entrap me, exactly in the same way an FBI informant was used on my way to Piketon, Ohio three years ago. I am correcting my reporting that she only acted as a NATO Courier for the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO at the Wuhan Games which was my original reporting on this topic.
Maybe that will provide a little relief to Benassi and her husband. Matt Benassi told CNN that he had been in contact with a civil attorney to consider filing a lawsuit against Webb but that he decided the cost to do so was prohibitive. In any case, it appears Webb has changed his tune.
Meanwhile, there are still videos about Maatje Benassi circulating on Chinese social media. Nothing circulates on Chinese social media without the tacit permission of Chinese censors. So the fact that these videos are still popular means the CCP has intentionally allowed it.
Here’s a video report from CNN Business: