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Clone evaluator suspends work, says it may be hoax

Former ABC journalist Michael Guillen said he has suspended work to verify the recent human cloning claims.
Former ABC journalist Michael Guillen said he has suspended work to verify the recent human cloning claims.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The science journalist who organized a team to evaluate claims of the birth of the first human clone has suspended his review and now says the announcement by Clonaid, a company tied to an unconventional religious sect, could be "part of an elaborate hoax."

"The team of scientists has had no access to the alleged family and, therefore, cannot verify firsthand the claim that a human baby has been cloned," said Michael Guillen in a written statement Monday. "It's still entirely possible Clonaid's announcement is part of an elaborate hoax intended to bring publicity to the Raelian movement."

Las Vegas-based Clonaid is linked to the Raelians, a religious group that believes space aliens came to Earth and began the human race through cloning. The company claims that two cloned human babies have been born, the first in an unidentified country to a U.S. couple and the second to a lesbian couple in the Netherlands.

After the birth of the first baby, which Clonaid officials said was dubbed "Eve," the company said it would allow Guillen, a freelance journalist who has been covering the issue of human cloning for the past six years, to conduct an independent inquiry to determine if the baby was indeed a clone of its mother.

Guillen said he made it "very clear" to Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, the head of Clonaid, that he would accept the offer only if there were no strings attached and that the actual testing was performed by unbiased DNA specialists.

In his statement Monday, he said he had assembled a team from two "highly respected" DNA testing facilities to do the work -- but he has suspended the effort because they have not had access to the baby.

"When and if an opportunity to collect DNA samples as promised does arise, however, the team stands fully prepared to re-mobilize and conduct the necessary tests," he said.

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