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Friday, April 16, 2010

ElBaradei interview appears to have been faked

YNet reported on Wednesday:
Former IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who is considering contending in Egypt's presidential elections next year, expressed his support for the "Palestinian resistance" while slamming Israel.

In a report published Tuesday, the experienced diplomat said that Palestinian violence was the only path open to the Palestinian people, because "the Israeli occupation only understands the language of violence."

According to the report from the UPI news agency, ElBaradei started the ball rolling with a meeting Monday with members of his movement, thus making it clear to Israel how relations between the states will be after the elections – if he wins. According to Ibrahim Nawar, a senior figure in the movement, ElBaradei also said, "The peace process has become a stupid joke which we talk about without achieving any progress."

The former International Atomic Energy Agency leader criticized the fence which Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak set up along the Gaza Strip border. The fence "hurts Egypt's reputation," he said. "It appears to be participation in the siege of Gaza, which has become the world's largest prison."

"The logical solution to the problem," he continued, "would be to close the tunnels and open border crossings while creating a free trade zone in Rafah where Palestinians can trade and then return to Gaza."
Where did this story come from? A search on the UPI website finds no such interview with ElBaradei.

As far as I can tell, the first place that this story was published was in the Al Qassam Brigades (Hamas) website, although it might have been first published by Iran's PressTV, whose story is identical to Al Qassam's.

If the story was true, it would be a bombshell - a Nobel Peace Prize winner saying that he supports terrorism, and someone who wants to be the Prime Minister of Egypt suggesting that Egypt's sovereignty be compromised by opening the border with Gaza?

However, it looks like it was made up. From Bikya Masr:
Upon further checking and a message received by Ali ElBaradei, the opposition leader’s brother and press contact, it appears the entire “interview” was made up.

“If you are referring to the interview with that Palestinian media agency, it is total bogus,” the brother told Bikya Masr. “He never gave such an interview.”

It begs the question as to why an organization would create a false interview with such a high profile Egyptian politician. According to Mohamed Latif, a Palestinian media analyst and blogger based in Ramallah, the idea was probably to create solidarity with the Palestinian cause, “after so much frustration with Egyptian political leaders.”

However, Latif believes that fabricating such interviews will do more harm than good to other Palestinian news organizations and agencies who seek proper news gathering.

“Now, it will be even harder for Palestinian reporters and organizations to deal with ElBaradei because there will be a lot of suspicion as to how the quotes will be used and rightfully so,” he added.

Here in Cairo, activists are dumbfounded, as the interview shocked many who wondered why ElBaradei would have said such comments in the first place.
So was it Hamas that made it up, or Iran?

And more importantly, why did YNet (and Arutz-7) believe the story without even checking with UPI?