Moroccan police arrested several people for spreading fake news about the virus, including a 48-year old woman for claiming that coronavirus does not exist.
Rabat – Police have arrested 11 people, including 4 women, for their alleged involvement in spreading fake news on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Morocco via computer systems.
The arrests took place on Wednesday and Thursday in different cities, including Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchaouen, Jerada, El Hajeb near Fez, Tiznit and Biougra in the Souss Massa region, and Meknes, according to a statement from the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
Investigations aiming to combat fake news and digital content relating to the pandemic of the new coronavirus led to the arrests.
The police determined the fake news the accused shared may undermine public order and cause panic among citizens.
The security cell for monitoring and fighting fake news related to the coronavirus in Morocco detected digital content on social media and mobile messaging applications.
The accused shared allegations of more infection cases and of road closures between cities and rural areas.
Some of the suspects also shared posts denying that the novel coronavirus exists.
Authorities opened judicial investigations and applied technical expertise, enabling police to identify suspects involved in creating, posting and disseminating the false content, the statement said.
Police put six individuals among the suspects in custody for the judicial investigation, while the other five were subjected to preliminary probes before police referred them to the public prosecutor’s office supervising investigations.
The Moroccan government approved Law 22-20 related to the use of social media and open broadcast networks on Thursday, March 19.
The enactment of the law comes amid the outbreak of the virus in Morocco. Earlier this week, the Public Prosecutor’s Office also gave instruction to the court to tighten measures against anyone who spreads fake news about the coronavirus in Morocco, creating fear and panic among citizens.
Morocco has recorded 66 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths as of this morning.