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Police book eight for spreading false rumors

Police said Wednesday eight people were booked for spreading false rumors related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome, such as unverified information on hospitals or personal information of patients.

Five of them are suspected of distributing rumors that certain hospitals were treating patients of the virus that has killed nine and infected more than a hundred in South Korea, the National Police Agency said.

The five face charges of business obstruction and libel.

Two of the eight are provincial civil servants who allegedly made public a list of suspected MERS cases without consent.

The remaining one is charged with spreading false rumors while posing as a reporter.

The police received a total of 44 reports of such cases and will continue to investigate the remaining 36, they said. Most reported victims are hospitals, schools or private education facilities.

Rumors were distributed rampantly early after MERS first broke out on May 20, before the government released the list of MERS-affected hospitals on June 7.

The government had vowed stern measures against those who spread false rumors thereby worsening public fears over the disease.

“Even after the government announcement of the list of (MERS-hit) hospitals, distribution of false information about medical facilities and other privately owned businesses seems to continue,” the police said.

The suspects will face criminal charges if their distributed information is found to have defamed or obstructed business, it added.

From news reports (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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