What’s striking is that the 34-year-old scientist had no sense of remorse while making his ‘big’ announcement in Hong Kong. He actually said that he was proud of the achievement.
Well, it seems that Chinese authorities are of a different opinion.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Lovell-Badge said He could face corruption and bribery charges, adding that “quite a few people have lost their heads for corruption.” Indeed, things look pretty gloomy for He Jiankui, who was expecting reverence as a pioneer, but who instead could face the axe.
“Lots of people are probably going to lose their jobs, he wasn’t the only one involved in this obviously. So how has he got them to do all this work? He could be had up on all sorts of charges of corruption and being guilty of corruption in China these days is not something you want to be,” Lovell-Badge told The Telegraph.
“Here you have a physicist who knows little biology, is very rich, has a huge ego, wants to be the first at doing something that will change the world,” Lovell-Badge added.
Lovell-Badge says that He is currently confined to an apartment under armed guard. It’s not clear at this point if the guards are there to restrict him or protect him. Since He made his controversial announcement, the Chinese physicist has received many death threats.
For the moment, He is under investigation by the Chinese government and could face jail time or even the death penalty, in the most extreme case. It’s an incredibly opaque situation at this point, as with many dark things in China. It would be very convenient for the local authorities to present a scapegoat — the head on a pike that eases the anger of the masses. However, what’s to keep something similar from happening again? If there’s anything to learn from this whole scandal it is that all countries should require stricter oversight and laws around gene editing on humans.