The head of a group that claims to have produced the world's first human clone insisted under oath Wednesday that the baby exists and said the girl is in Israel, not the United States.
Clonaid President Brigitte Boisselier also said she had only seen the child, nicknamed Baby Eve by the company, on videotape. Her testimony led a judge to throw out a guardianship petition involving the child.
When Boisselier announced late last month that Clonaid had produced a healthy human clone, she promised that independent DNA testing would prove the claim in about 10 days.
But she later backed away, saying the Florida guardianship petition had scared Eve's parents and they were refusing to allow testing for fear the baby would be taken away.
Experts have say that without the tests, the cloning claims can't be validated. Some believe the whole thing is an elaborate hoax by the religious sect behind Clonaid, a group called the Raelians that believes life on Earth was started by extraterrestrials.
Circuit Judge John Frusciante on Wednesday threw out the Florida petition for guardianship, saying the court didn't have jurisdiction if, as Boisselier had testified, the child wasn't in the country.
He asked Boisselier to convey that the court was not interested in taking the baby away, but also briefly lectured her about cloning.
"You cannot pursue human cloning with impunity," the judge said. "All of us must not overlook the weakest among us."
Attorney Bernard Siegel had argued for the appointment of a guardian, saying cloning was inherently abusive because of the genetic problems encountered in other mammal cloning.
After the hearing, he said he hopes Israeli authorities investigate the case.
"My great concern was the welfare of this child being hidden from the world," Siegel said.
Clonaid attorney Jonathan Schwartz called the lawsuit "patently preposterous" because there was never any U.S. connection aside from the December news conference announcing the birth, which was held in Florida.
Clonaid, which says it retains philosophical but not economic ties to the Raelians, claimed last week that a third cloned child, a boy, had been born in Japan. It said clone No. 2, a girl, was born to a Dutch lesbian Jan. 3.
"There's a cloned sheep, a cloned cat, why not a cloned baby?" Schwartz said.