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Guardian reporter’s license canceled over false coronavirus figures, apology demanded

CAIRO – 17March 2020: The State Information Service (SIS) has canceled the license of the Guardian reporter and gave a warning to the chief of the New York Times bureau in Cairo over false figures on the coronavirus in Egypt.
In a Tuesday statement, SIS demanded an apology from the Guardian for publishing the report that cited a study by a Canadian Medical Doctor claiming that infected people in the country may amount to more than 19,000. The official number stands at 196, with six deaths and 26 recovered cases at the time of writing.
The study was rejected due to lacking evidence, unlike his similar study on Iran, which was published on his account in Google Scholars. His Egypt study is not available online, except for some screenshots of it and his tweet of the figure.
Nevertheless, the Guardian inserted a hyperlink to the doctor’s tweet and the New York Times reporter in Egypt, Declan Walsh, retweeted it. He was summoned by the SIS on Monday, along with the Guardian reporter Ruth Michaelson.
The SIS said the report “stirred controversy in Egypt and the world that is anxiously following up everything related to the danger threatening the entire humanity.”
The two reporters “violated the rules of journalism” adopted in Egypt and worldwide, giving “misleading” information about such a sensitive issue by citing an “obscure” doctor, SIS added.
The sole source of the Guardian report is the study, which the World Health Organization said is based on speculations, which is not accepted by the organization, SIS noted. The WHO has already praised Egypt’s actions and transparency regarding the pandemic.
SIS emphasized that the reporters’ hastily published wrong info with only one obscure source that is not recognized by any prestigious entity and without getting back to the concerned parties, especially the Egyptian Health Ministry and the WHO bureau in Cairo. The service considered these actions as proof of their “ill intentions” towards Egyptian interests and the perception of conditions in the country.
Other than credible sources, licensed journalists are free to roam the country and observe the situation for themselves, SIS continued, inviting journalists to write the names of people infected or died of the virus other than those confined by the government.
The SIS decisions regarding Michaelson and Walsh come after the former’s repeated “intentional offenses” and the latter’s “professional violations” and in compliance with the Egyptian and international law and international codes regulating the work of foreign reporters.
Demanding an apology from the Guardian in a story in the same fashion of the first one, as followed in such cases, the SIS said that otherwise it may close the Guardian’s bureau in Egypt.
On the other hand, SIS applauded the coronavirus coverage of all other international media working in Egypt, acknowledging it did not detect any mischief in that regard except by the two reporters.
SIS called on all media to handle the coverage of the pandemic with professionalism, as many people follow the news anxiously on this danger facing humanity and cannot take any more fear.



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