Abu Dhabi Court Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal has sentenced a TV reporter and his interviewee to two years in prison each for fabricating a fake story that claimed a family of five Emiratis had died of COVID-19.

The court issued its ruling after it found the two suspects guilty of fabricating false news and spreading false information.

The case dates to August when the reporter at an Abu Dhabi sports channel interviewed the second suspect who claimed a family of five Emiratis died of coronavirus.

The Public Prosecution carried investigations over the broadcast report that was found to be entirely false. The two men were arrested immediately after the fake story was widely shared on social media platforms.

In August, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) said the rumour circulating over social media about deaths of five members of a family due to COVID-19 was fake news.

Abu Dhabi Media had announced an internal investigation regarding the fabricated story of the death of five family members as a result of COVID-19. It was also announced that disciplinary decisions have been taken against the programme staff, including suspension from work, issuance of a final warning letter and financial penalties.

“The National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority has denied the validity of reports circulated on television and social media regarding the death of five members of one family as a result of Covid-19,” the NCEMA tweeted at the time.

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“The matter has now been referred to the Federal Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Prosecution to take the necessary legal measures in coordination with the authorities concerned,” it had said in another tweet.