An Iraqi security member wearing a mask and gloves is seen in Baghdad, Iraq, on March 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)

Iraq suspends Reuters’ operations over false coronavirus report

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission said Friday it has suspended the operations of Reuters offices in the country for three months following a report the news agency published on the country’s COVID-19 situation.

“The Media and Communications Commission expresses its astonishment and condemnation at what was reported by Reuters news agency when it claimed that the number of people infected with coronavirus in Iraq exceeds what is recorded and declared,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission accused Reuters of relying on vague sources and fabricated news, which has put “community security at risk, and hinders major government efforts to combat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” according to the statement.

Accordingly, the commission decided to “suspend the agency office license in Iraq for a period of three months, fining it with an amount of 25 million Iraqi dinars (208,052 U.S. dollars), and obliging it to submit an official apology to the government and the Iraqi people,” the statement added.

On Thursday, the Iraqi Health Ministry denied Reuters’ claims in a statement, indicating that the news agency lacked evidence.

Also on Thursday, the health ministry reported a total of 772 cases of COVID-19, including 54 deaths and 202 recoveries.