The COVID-19 pandemic created a new backdrop for silencing dissent, which some authoritarian leaders took advantage of to put journalists on trial under a raft of “fake news” and other laws. TrialWatch exposed the injustice of these trials through monitoring and advocacy.

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Fake News Charges Russia

Russian journalist Alexander Pichugin was convicted of spreading ‘fake news’ for sarcastic comments he published on social media criticizing Russia for permitting religious gatherings as a stark exception to the general rule of social distancing at a time when COVID-19 infection was prevalent.

Protesters demanding better treatment for people infected with COVID-19 in India

Politically Motivated Charges India

Indian journalist and Washington Post Global Opinions writer Rana Ayyub is facing an array of charges in India. In one recent case, she faces up to seven years in prison for fraud charges based on allegations of misuse of COVID relief funds.

The case was prompted by a complaint from an individual affiliated with India’s ruling party. More broadly, the mounting charges appear to be an attempt to silence her in response to her reporting, in particular on India’s handling of the COVID crisis.

Supporters of Congress party wearing protective gear attend a protest demanding better treatment for people infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and other patients in the state government-run hospitals, amidst the outbreak in India. (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri)
Tunisian blogger Emna Charqui looking out from a window

Re-Posting a Poem On Facebook in Tunisia

Tunisian blogger Emna Chargui was convicted of ‘advocacy of hatred between religions’ and ‘undermining a licensed religious rite’ for a poem she re-posted on Facebook entitled ‘Sura-Corona’, which discussed the importance of science guiding the response to COVID in the style of a Quranic verse.