Several reports released in early August revealed that the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) victims in Iran is three times more than the figures the Iranian government has announced.
Earlier reports showed that the government attempted to cover up the pandemic outbreak in the country for up to a month after its initial, limited spread.
Hossein Rajabi, a Tehran-based journalist, told Al-Mashareq, "It is no longer a secret that the regime was silent for several weeks about the coronavirus outbreak. This comes as no surprise, since protecting the public's lives is of no importance to the Islamic republic."
Instead, said Rajabi, the regime feared that publicizing the news would limit people's participation in the parliamentary elections and the annual pro-regime demonstrations.
The government was finally forced to admit the virus had indeed spread across the country. The IRGC was tasked with announcing the death toll, and yet it lied about the numbers, he said.
'Nour photos' speculated to be Google Earth images
More recently, the Islamic republic's deception was also exposed in a military context. Hardline and IRGC-affiliated media outlets, including Mashregh News and Tasnim News, published detailed reports and video of the newest IRGC military exercise on July 28th.
They reported that during the exercise, images captured by Nour-1 (Iran's military satellite in orbit since late April) were utilised for reference and to help co-ordinate the exercise in a more precise fashion.
They also claimed the satellite had taken images of other areas in the region, including the US al-Udeid airbase in Qatar.
Shortly afterwards, a stark similarity was widely noticed between the released images and a number of Google Earth images taken of the al-Udeid base in 2016. This sparked speculation that the images published on hardline Iranian media websites were not authentic and may have in fact been taken from Google Earth.
On July 29th, BBC Persian published a report fact-checking the authenticity of the images. The report compared images side by side and pointed to their quality and details, which were clearly similar to those in Google Earth's 2016 pictures of the al-Udeid base. The Google Earth photos are available for free on the app.
'Another embarrassment for IRGC'
Reza Taghipourian, a Tehran-based political expert, told Al-Mashreq, "Publishing Google Earth photos and claiming they were taken by the Nour-1 satellite was an embarrassment for the Islamic republic and the IRGC."
Another embarrassing example was when they claimed the Basij invented a device for the rapid detection of coronavirus. That incident, like this one, became the source of jokes and laughter among the public, he said.
Iran's economy is paralysed and unemployment and inflation are skyrocketing, he said. The government is facing an enormous deficit and many people are living below the poverty line, yet Iran's costly military projects are still carried out.
"Instead of taking care of the people's economic problems, the regime plans and executes expensive projects such as satellite launches," he said.