The Spokesman of Iran's Armed Forces on Tuesday said Iran's Law Enforcement Forces (Police) and the Revolutionary Guard's militia arm (Basij) have arrested 3,600 individuals for "spreading rumors about coronavirus".
Speaking on a live news program on Channel 2 of Iran's state-run television Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi warned that rumors are a means of psychological war against Iran and said those who lead rumor campaigns will be arrested.
"Our enemies are always hostile and have agents to further their wishes in our country but we had a very good performance in combating coronavirus in comparison with countries that claim to be advanced. You can see what disaster the United States is stuck in," he said and claimed that "unlike" the United States and some other countries, the Iranian military is helping in the fight against coronavirus.
Brigadier General Shekarchi also claimed only four medical staff and some of the armed forces' retired members who had been injured in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) have died of COVID-19 so far. He did not reveal the number of chemically-wounded veterans who have been affected with coronavirus.
On March 6, Feyzollah Arabsorkhi, a reformist politician and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War himself, said at least 18 chemically-wounded veterans suffering from respiratory complications had died of COVID-19.
Thousands of Iranian soldiers and civilians sustained various chemical injuries including acute respiratory problems during Iraqi chemical attacks. According to Iranian officials at least 65,000 are still under treatment and care for their chemical injuries.
Several lawmakers have criticized the health ministry for underreporting coronavirus cases and deaths. They say the real figures are much higher than official numbers announced daily by the ministry.
In an interview with Radio Farda on March 28 the U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Iran has been arresting people who have tried to report the real scope of Iran's coronavirus crisis directly sending messages to the State Department.
Pointing out that Iran has not been transparent about its coronavirus cases and death toll, Ortagus told Radio Farda that when the Iranian people ask the government to tell the truth, when they demand transparency from the government, the regime does everything to stop them.