Are Théo and Mickael Luhaka the sons of a Congolese minister?

The French blog Fdesouche published an article on February 26th claiming that Théo and his brother Mickaël Luhaka were the sons of Thomas Luhaka – the current minister for infrastructure of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the article, this relationship explains the visit the French President, François Hollande, made to Théo Luhaka after his assault by four French police officers.

Théo, a 22-year-old youth worker, was the victim of a violent arrest on February 2nd in northern Paris.  One officer has been charged with raping Theo, and the three others with assault.

According to Fdesouche, the story of Théo’s alleged family ties originated from the website sangoyacongo.com. Fdesouche also cites the websites Africawave, and Mediapart, where the claim appeared on February 9th 2017.

The news agency AFP contacted minister Thomas Luhaka in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC. Luhaka assured AFP reporters that Théo and Mickaël are not his sons, but are his nephews. “They are my nephews, my big brother’s sons, Prosper Luhaka who lives there [in France]”.

On the website of the radio station Africa n°1, the journalist Fatou Biramah also refers, in an article of February 27th, to Thomas Luhaka as the “uncle” of Théo and Mickaël.




Did Marine Le Pen tweet about the Masha and The Bear cartoon?

A screenshot of a fake tweet by Marine Le Pen, in which the National Front (FN) candidate criticizes the Masha and The Bear cartoon (Masha Et Michka in French), was posted on Twitter on Sunday, February 26.

The tweet — from the “NTM le FN” account, known for being anti-FN — was shared more than 1,700 times. Published with the hashtag #NantesMLP, the Tweet was published as Marine Le Pen visited the city of Nantes for a rally.

However, the tweet cannot be found on Marine Le Pen’s real account and it is difficult to find any trace of it elsewhere on the social network.

The person behind the tweet chose to remain anonymous but confirmed that it was a fake. She explained that it aimed “to demonstrate how easy it is to misinform on Twitter” and that her action “was part of the fight against the ‘fachosphere’ (extreme right groups)”. The image already appeared on Facebook in December 2016, when it received more than 13,000 likes.

The satirical website secretnews.fr published an article  on the same topic on the December 4, 2014.



Is the list of Macron supporters shared on Facebook reliable ?

A video shared by Anonymous France seeks to portray Emmanuel Macron as a candidate from the establishment. Shared more than 17.000 times, it relies on questionable shortcuts.

The video was spotted by Les Échos. It was shared by Anonymous France, a page which falsely claims to be part of the Anonymous movement. The video starts with journalists presenting the En Marche ! candidate as an “anti-establishment” figure. A voice then names supposed Macron supporters, including established politicians and business leaders. However, it relies on several shortcuts.

The journalists’ quotations are taken out of context so that they appear to be praising Macron. The words “anti-system”, “brilliant” and “charming” are taken from Antonin André’s column on Europe 1. André was actually criticizing Macron’s “smart populism” : “In every election, there is an anti-system, brilliant, charming and popular candidate”.

The list of En Marche!’s political supporters is mainly true, but remains doubtful. The fact that Ismaël Emelien, the former right-hand man of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, joined the movement is the basis for suggesting that Strauss-Kahn himself supports Macron.

The list of Macron’s support from business leaders also relies on several rumors. Xavier Niel, Vincent Bolloré and Bernard Arnault have not officially supported Macron, but there are rumours that they would do.



Did the US ambassador to Russia really go to a demonstration in support of one of Putin’s opponents?

A picture showing the US ambassador to Russia taking part in a protest to commemorate Boris Nemstov, a political opponent of Putin who was assassinated in 2015, turns out to have been Photoshopped.

Translation: “Why is the US ambassador to Russia John Tefft taking part in the Nemstov March?”

The photo shows John Tefft, the US ambassador in Moscow, in the middle of a demonstration to commemorate Nemstov. He is holding a sign on which it is written in Russian, “He fought for our future.”

It’s a Photoshop job: John Tefft is standing exactly the same way in a photo published on 22 April 2015 in the Moscow Times. Putting the photos side by side shows that his outfit and the position in which he is standing are identical. All that was left was to cut out his outline and place a protest sign in his hand.


Translation: And you’re not bothered by publishing a propaganda blog… with a clear photomontage! #Alwaysthesamemethods

The image was posted on several Russian social networks starting 26 February, the date of the protest. In France, it was posted on the French blog Russie Politics, a blog focusing on Russian politics and managed by researcher Karine Béchet-Golovko, who also tweeted the image. The tweet was then picked up by Thierry Mariani, a French MP representing French citizens living abroad, particularly in eastern Europe.


Translation: If the Russian ambassador joined protests in France it would be a scandal, but the US has impunity.

The Observers team at France 24, a partner of CrossCheck, got in touch with Karine Béchet-Golovko to let her know about the fake photo. She replied, “It looks like it is a photomontage, even though the site’s writer doesn’t say so. To take with a pinch of salt. I’m going to take it down off my blog.” The blog post has since been changed — but the photo not removed — and Mariani has apologised on Twitter for having shared a “photomontage”.


Translation : Sorry for publishing a tweet that was a photomontage.