Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that there was "tremendous evidence" that the coronavirus pandemic had occurred in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
"There is tremendous evidence that it started here," he said in ABC's "This Week".
Although Pompeo was extremely critical of China's handling of the matter, he declined to say whether he believed the virus was deliberately released.
President Donald Trump has increasingly criticized China's role in the pandemic, which infected nearly 3.5 million people and killed more than 240,000 people worldwide.
He insisted that Beijing ruthlessly kept secret information about the outbreak and called for Beijing to be "held accountable".
Trump has reportedly hired US spies to find out more about the origins of the virus. At first, a Wuhan market was accused of selling exotic animals like bats, but may now be from a nearby virus research laboratory.
Pompeo, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told ABC he agreed to a Thursday statement by US intelligence agencies "agreeing to the broad scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus is not man-made or genetically modified has been". ""
But he went further than Trump, citing "significant" and "tremendous" evidence that the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory.
"I think the whole world can see now, remember China has infected the world in the past and operated substandard laboratories," said Pompeo.
He said that early Chinese efforts to downplay the corona virus were "a classic communist disinformation effort. This creates an enormous risk."
"President Trump is very clear: we will hold those responsible to account."
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)