His organization has compiled what he says is a partial list of 200 cases of arrests, threats and harassment related to media coverage of the pandemic. That includes the jailing of journalists in the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Iran, Liberia and Turkey. No, no one has yet been arrested in the United States; President Trump has limited himself to lobbing insults and smears at the reporters who attend the daily reality show he calls a press briefing. At a webinar organized by the Aspen Institute last week, Simon rattled off a long list of countries that have adopted new regulations or laws criminalizing the reporting of “false” information about the epidemic — with governments the arbiters of what that constitutes. One of the most remarkable cases is India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a three-week lockdown on his 1.3 billion people, which was necessary — and made an extraordinary effort to muzzle the journalists among them, which was not. The government sought a ruling from India’s Supreme Court requiring all media to publish only official accounts of the pandemic. Krishnan’s case is typical of the situation in many countries where harassment is directed at journalists who report on medical shortages or question official figures about the number of infections or deaths. On Feb. 6, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Chen disappeared after telling his family he planned a report on a temporary hospital. Egypt expelled a correspondent from the British newspaper the Guardian who questioned official figures on infections; Iraq suspended the license of the Reuters bureau in Baghdad for doing the same. “There is a grave risk,” he said, that this argument “is taking hold around the world.” If it does, one main reason will be that the world’s leading democracy not only is doing nothing to stop the “covid-19 crackdown,” its president is actively abetting it.
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