Coronavirus: Police in Dubai make fake news arrest

Young Asian man arrested for using video to 'spread fear'

Police in Dubai have arrested a young Asian man suspected of spreading fake news online. Reuters
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Police in Dubai have arrested an man for allegedly spreading fake news about the coronavirus.

eCrime department officers said the young Asian edited and posted video footage that “spread fear among community members”.

No further details were revealed, but the arrest came after the government denied a series of rumours spread online.

This included footage shared on social media of a man splayed out on the pavement in what appeared to be Dubai's old town.

Dubai Media Office, the government's press office, said he had an epileptic fit and was not struck down by the virus, as had been claimed.

“Dubai Police warns that spreading rumours is a serious offence that will be severely penalised as per Article 198 of the federal law concerning information technology,” a spokesman said in a statement on Facebook.

Any person who intentionally disseminates false or malicious news, statements, rumours or disruptive propaganda to spread fear among people or to inflict damage to the public interest, shall be punished, it states.

Last week, the government said a statement spread on social media that every phone conversation, WhatsApp message and private social media post would be monitored was false and had been mocked-up to spread panic.

Police encouraged the public to share rumours and suspicious information on its Police Eye platform or to allow officers to investigate.