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.
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.
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.