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Climate activist Greta Thunberg does not have ‘handler’

September 30, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has a “handler,” Luisa-Marie Neubauer, who has ties to the “ONE Foundation managed by Bono, Bill Gates and George Soros.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Mixed. Neubauer volunteers for the ONE Campaign, an international organization that fights extreme poverty and disease. But she does not serve as a “handler” or “supervisor” for Thunberg, whose environmental activism began a little over a year ago in Sweden.

THE FACTS: Facebook and Twitter posts attempting to link Thunberg to the One Campaign through Neubauer began circulating widely in recent weeks as the 16-year-old Swedish activist promoted worldwide rallies to call attention to climate change and spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.

The posts featured pictures of Thunberg and Neubauer, and falsely identified Neubauer as a “handler” or a “supervisor.” They also claimed Neubauer has ties to the “One Foundation,” an apparent reference to the One Campaign, co-founded by U2 frontman Bono.

Neubauer, a German climate activist, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she met Thunberg at the 2018 United Nations climate change summit in Katowice, Poland. She described Thunberg as a friend and inspiration.

“I was inspired by the way Greta acted while everyone seemed speechless,” said Neubauer, speaking to the AP from Berlin.

The teen, who landed in New York City on Aug. 28 after traveling across the Atlantic Ocean in a zero-emissions sailboat, was accompanied on the trip by her father, who travels with her, according to the AP.

According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website, “One originated in conversations between Bill Gates and Bono in the early 2000s about the need to better inform Americans about extreme poverty around the world.” The One Campaign has ties to Soros, founder and chairman of Open Society Foundations, which works to build democracies.

Brooke Havlik, a communications officer with Open Society Foundations, told the AP that the organization has given $10 million to the One Campaign since 2011. Havlik said Soros had not had any interactions with Neubauer.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536