US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Russia, China and Iran for spreading “disinformation” on COVID-19 and carrying out coordinated efforts to “disparage” American attempts towards containing the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the White House on Friday, Mike Pompeo described the disinformation campaigns as being “pretty diffused” and urged Americans to ensure that they are getting their information from a reliable source and not a “bad actor” trying to create and flow information that they know is wrong.
“I wanted to talk about the disinformation the people are seeing both on Twitter and around the world. Some of it coming from the government, some of it coming from other individuals,” he told reporters.
He identified three countries for these “disinformation campaigns”.
“It is pretty defused unfortunately but we have certainly seen it come from places like China and Russia and Iran where there are coordinated efforts to disparage what America is doing and our activity to do all of the things that President (Donald) Trump has set in motion here,” Mike Pompeo said.
The Secretary of State acknowledged that to combat the fast-spreading pandemic was a “tough fight”.
A total of 230 people had died in the US due to the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic by Friday evening.
The number of confirmed cases has jumped to over 18,000, an increase of over 10,000 in less than 50 hours. Coronavirus cases have been reported in all the 50 States in the US and District of Columbia as well as Puerto Rico.
Globally, the death count from the virus has risen to 11,397 with more than 275,427 cases reported in over 160 countries and territories.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump said that the world is “paying a big price” for China hiding the initial information on the deadly coronavirus while ramping up his charges that Beijing is responsible for the current global public health crisis due to the pandemic.
Recent EU reports of Russian efforts to sow disinformation about COVID-19 echo warnings made by Lea Gabrielle, the Special Envoy of the Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia is behind “swarms of online, false personas” seeking to spread misinformation about COVID-19 on social media sites, the Senators wrote.
According to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, these “malign activities” demonstrate how false narratives about COVID-19 are “truly global and spread faster than the virus itself”.
The US leader was responding to a question on a critical tweet by his National Security Council (NSC) against the Chinese government.
Taking to Twitter, the NSC said that the Chinese Communist Party suppressed initial reports on the coronavirus and punished doctors, causing Chinese and international experts to miss critical opportunities to prevent a global pandemic.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had accused China of impeding world efforts to fight the coronavirus through censorship.
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 210,300 people in at least 145 countries and over 9,000 people have died, more than half of them outside China, where the epidemic first began in the city of Wuhan.