Iraq has temporarily revoked the licence of the Reuters news agency after it reported the nation’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases was higher than stated in the official figures.
Iraq’s media regulator banned Reuters from operating in Iraq for three months and fined agency 25 million dinars (21,000 dollars) for what it said was the violation of the rules of media broadcasting, Reuters said on Wednesday.
Reuters said 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.
Asked about the Reuters suspension in an interview with U.S. broadcaster CNN, Iraqi President Barham Salih said it was a “regrettable decision” taken by a commission which is independent of the government.
“From my vantage point you would not get me in a situation where I would defend that. I’m working with our legal team in order to revoke that and manage the situation,” Salih said.
In the April 2 report, Reuters cited doctors involved in the testing process, a health ministry official and a senior political official as saying Iraq had thousands of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, many times more than the 772 it had publicly reported at that time.
Iraq has so far reported 1,400 confirmed infections and 78 virus-related deaths. (dpa/NAN)