Clone firm: Second birth by Sunday

CNN News/January 3, 2003

Paris, France -- The head of the company that claims to have produced the first human clone says a second baby is expected to be born somewhere in Europe in the next few days.

But amid scepticism and outrage about the birth of the baby, nicknamed Eve -- who the company says was born to a 31-year-old American woman last Thursday -- Brigitte Boisselier said genetic tests it had promised to provide as proof had been postponed to protect the parents' identities.

In an interview on French and British TV on Thursday, the chief executive of Clonaid, which was founded by members of a religious sect that believes space aliens created life on Earth, declined to name the country where the second baby would be born but said it would take place by Sunday.

Boisselier, who is also a member of the sect, called the Raelians, had previously said three more couples were expected to give birth to Clonaid-created clones by early February.

The whereabouts of Eve, who was born outside the United States on December 26, have not been revealed, nor has the birth been independently confirmed. Clonaid said she would be brought to the U.S. Monday but it is not known if that ever took place.

Clonaid had said it would take DNA samples on Tuesday to pacify sceptics and would provide the results a week later.

"These tests have not been carried out. We have had to push them back," Boisselier said, saying the baby's parents felt under pressure after a Florida lawyer this week asked a state court to appoint a legal guardian for the baby.

"For the time being the parents told me they are giving themselves another 48 hours to decide whether or not they will do the tests. The parents have gone home and they just want some peace and to spend time with their child," she told France 2.

"Perhaps the second child will be more accessible because it is in Europe and the country in which he or she will be born may be less sensitive," she said, adding the birth was due in days.

"It will be this week," she said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Raelian Movement said Thursday he had told the doctor in charge of the project not to perform any DNA tests on the child.

Rael said he made that decision after a "judge in Florida signed a paper saying that the baby Eve should be taken from the family, from her mother."

However, a Florida judge has made no such ruling. A hearing date has been set in Broward County Circuit Court for January 22 on a lawsuit filed by attorney Bernard Siegel, who wants a legal guardian appointed for the alleged clone.

If the mother of the child does not appear for the hearing, then the court could conceivably order that the baby be taken away. The court could also delay any decision or rule that it doesn't have jurisdiction in the case.

Siegel said Rael's comments seemed to indicate "that they don't have to answer to the law, which says to me that this is a rogue organization."

"I want the whereabouts of this alleged child to be made public," he said.

Noting that there has been no ruling at this point, Siegel said, "I guess he's [Rael] a better space alien than he is a lawyer. If my lawsuit has in fact called their bluff, then so be it."

Rael contends human life resulted from extraterrestrial genetic engineering and argues that cloning is the key to eternal life.

Appearing on CNN's "Crossfire," Rael said he had spoken with Boisselier and told her: "If there is any risk that this baby is taken away from the family, it is better to lose your credibility, don't do the testing."

He added: "I think she agrees with me."

Clonaid had previously said the child was to undergo DNA testing this week to verify its genetic makeup. The company did not immediately return CNN's calls seeking comment late Thursday.

Will the public get a chance to see the baby soon?

"I don't think so," Rael said.

Asked whether his group is simply pulling a great publicity stunt, Rael, speaking from Canada via satellite, said his earpiece was having technical difficulties.

"I am so sorry but the sound is so bad. I cannot hear anything," he said.

He also said his Raelian Movement was "completely separate" from Clonaid.

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