Delaware State University said it won’t interfere with the free speech rights of a tenured professor who wrote a wildly speculative and conspiratorial article in a Liberian newspaper in which he claimed that the U.S. government manufactured the Ebola virus and spread it in West Africa under the guise of vaccine testing.
“The university is not going to abridge his First Amendment rights to give his opinion about the issues of the day,” said Carlos Holmes, a spokesman for the school, where Cyril Broderick is an associate professor in the agriculture and natural resources department.
The article in question — headlined “Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?” — appeared in a major Liberian newspaper, the Daily Observer, earlier this month.
“Reports narrate stories of the US Department of Defense (DoD) funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone,” Broderick wrote.
Officials at the university first became aware of Broderick’s article on Friday, after The Post reported on its contents, Holmes said.
He declined to comment on whether the university had spoken to Broderick, citing a policy of keeping “personnel issues” private.
“A lot of people can have tenure at a university and then they’ll go out and commit mass murder, okay,” Holmes said. “We didn’t know that they would do that before they were granted tenure.
“You’re talking about something that is happening first of all after he has been granted tenure.”
He added that the comments have nothing to do with the university.
“Dr. Broderick’s comments have nothing to do with any research that is taking place at Delaware State University,” Holmes said. “I’m not sure Dr. Broderick is doing research in this area. He’s a plant scientist and there’s no research like that relating with pathogens and viruses taking place in Delaware State University.”
The allegations — some of them reinforcing and spreading dangerous misinformation that treatments for Ebola can actually cause the virus — are particularly startling because they came from a seemingly reputable source: A Liberian who is a scientist affiliated with a U.S. institution of higher learning.
And they came just as the U.S. government is beginning to ramp up its efforts to battle the widening outbreak.
“There are many references to what was contained in my letter,” Broderick told The Post in an interview. “You may read the letter and double-check the sources listed. They are available and legitimate.”
In fact, some of the references are to known conspiracy Web sites, and one even credits TheGuardian.com, the Web site for a British newspaper, with a quote that appears to have never been printed by that paper.