Iraq suspends Reuters for three months over report on Covid-19 cases

Iraq has suspended the licence of the
Reuters news agency after it published a story saying the number of confirmed
COVID-19 cases in the country was higher than officially reported.
media regulator said it was revoking Reuters’ licence for three months and
fining it 25 million dinars ($21,000) for what it said was the agency’s
violation of the rules of media broadcasting.
In a letter to Reuters, the Communications
and Media Commission (CMC) said it had taken the action “because this matter is
taking place during current circumstances which have serious repercussions on
societal health and safety”.

Reuters said it regretted the Iraqi
authorities’ decision and that it stood by the story, which it said was based
on multiple, well-placed medical and political sources, and fully represented
the position of the Iraqi health ministry.
“We are seeking to resolve the matter and
are working to ensure we continue to deliver trusted news about Iraq,” the news
agency said in a statement.
The Reuters
report, published on April 2, cited three doctors involved in the testing
process, a health ministry official and a senior political official as saying
Iraq had thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than the 772 it had publicly reported at that time.
The report was updated on April 2 to
include a denial from a health ministry spokesman, sent by text message, who
dismissed the sources’ assertions about the spread of the disease, describing
them as “incorrect information”.
In addition to the three-month suspension,
Reuters was ordered to issue a formal apology.
As of April 13, Iraq had recorded 1,378
cases of COVID-19, including 78 deaths, according to the health ministry.


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