The claim: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was arrested for crimes against humanity
More than 6,000 Facebook users have shared an article that claims World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been arrested for crimes against humanity and genocide, according to social media data aggregator CrowdTangle.
The article claims he was arrested because he took part in a conspiracy to misinform the public about COVID-19 and helped push “unnecessary and deadly vaccines on the human population.”
The Vancouver Times, a self-described satirical website that readers often confuse for a credible news outlet, published the article on July 24. The website has previously spread viral misinformation about public figures and COVID-19.
“GOOD!!!!” one user captioned the article in a July 25 post to the Juan O Savin Facebook group, which has more than 40,000 members.
In a statement, the WHO said Ghebreyesus was not arrested. USA TODAY found no evidence to support the claim.
USA TODAY reached out to the Vancouver Times and several users who shared the post for comment.
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Ghebreyesus has not been arrested, per WHO
The claim that Ghebreyesus was arrested is false, a WHO spokesperson said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY in an email.
No credible news outlets have reported that Ghebreyesus – who appeared in a press conference on July 23 to declare monkeypox a global emergency one day before the article was published – has been taken into custody.
The article did not provide evidence to support its claim that Ghebreyesus was arrested.
In addition, the article’s claims that the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax or a “plandemic” are false, as USA TODAY has reported.
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Vancouver Times labels itself satire
The claim that Ghebreyesus was recently arrested is one of several false claims to go viral after appearing in the Vancouver Times.
USA TODAY has previously debunked several other false claims spread by the website, including that Justin Bieber attributed his facial paralysis to the COVID-19 vaccine and that the vice president of Pfizer was arrested.
The Vancouver Times describes itself as “the most trusted source for satire on the West Coast.” But readers only learn that if they click on a link labeled “Details” at the bottom of their website, and the site itself doesn’t abide by that description, posting false stories alongside reports on actual events.
The satire stories typically contain no other labeling identifying them as such, which often results in social media users taking the stories as true when they are shared online.
The article about Ghebreyesus’ arrest was updated on July 25 to include several Twitter posts echoing the false claim, and a line at the end of the article suggests mainstream outlets are covering up news reported in the Vancouver Times.
“The mainstream media and big tech want to hide the truth,” it reads. “Beat them at their own game by sharing this article!”
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Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Ghebreyesus was arrested for crimes against humanity. USA TODAY found no credible evidence that this arrest occurred, and the WHO also said this didn’t happen. The claim originated with the Vancouver Times, a website that describes its content as satirical.
Our fact-check sources:
- Vancouver Times, July 25, Details (archived)
- World Health Organization, July 26, Email correspondence with USA TODAY
- World Health Organization, accessed July 26, Biography: Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
- USA TODAY, Jan. 5, Fact check: The COVID-19 pandemic is not a hoax
- USA TODAY, July 23, World Health Organization chief says monkeypox is now a global emergency
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