Video: Senior Iranian cleric who died from coronavirus blamed US for outbreak

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A senior Iranian cleric who recently died of coronavirus had previously blamed the US for the outbreak of the virus in a speech captured on video.

Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei-Golpaygani died from coronavirus on Monday. He was a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts - the clerical body that supervises, appoints and in theory, can sack the Supreme Leader.

Now, video has surfaced of a speech from February in which he blamed the US for spreading coronavirus for its interests.

“In my opinion, America is the source of coronavirus. Because America went head to head with China and realised it cannot keep up with it economically or militarily,” Bathaei-Golpaygani said in a speech on February 22.

The US military “produced and spread” coronavirus in China, he added.

Senior officials of the Islamic Republic, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami had previously suggested that the coronavirus outbreak in Iran may be the result of a US biological attack against the country.

Read more: Where is Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei?

In another part of his speech, Bathaei-Golpaygani said that he had discomfort in his chest and lungs the day before but felt better after eating soil taken from the grave of Imam Hussain ibn Ali.

“Last dawn, I really thought I was going to die. My chest was hurting … afterwards, I ate some soil taken from Imam Hussain’s grave, and I got all better. It takes faith,” Bathaei-Golpaygani said.

Imam Hussain ibn Ali is one of the grandsons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad. He is buried in the Shia holy city of Karbala in Iraq.

As of Wednesday, 1,135 in Iran have died from coronavirus and there are 17,361 confirmed cases.

Read more: Coronavirus: How Tehran failed to halt outbreak

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