The Iranian government has threatened to flog and imprison anyone caught ‘spreading fake news’ about the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has already killed 26 people in Iran.
Hassan Norouzi, a spokesman for parliament’s legal and judicial committee, said ‘spreading lies’ is punishable by one to three years in prison with flogging, in accordance with Shariah law.
‘Spreading fake news over coronavirus outbreak will [make] people panic. It also will pave the ground for the country’s shutdown,’ the Tehran Times reported him saying in translation.
Nourouzi added that 24 citizens were already in custody for ‘spreading rumours’ and that the harsh sentences were warranted by Shariah.
In another news, Iran has confirmed seven new deaths from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said today, taking the overall toll to 26, the highest outside China.
An additional 106 confirmed infections took the total number of cases so far to 245, ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said at a cabinet briefing.