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Photo shows soldier being tortured, not the U.S. ambassador to Libya

November 26, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: Photo shows body of ambassador “tortured” during Obama administration 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo circulating on Facebook shows a soldier being tortured in Argentina by other soldiers in 1986. 

THE FACTS: The photo has circulated previously on social media falsely identified as showing U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was killed along with three other Americans in a 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. During the impeachment inquiry, the photo surfaced again with a false caption. 

“This ambassador was tortured, raped, cattle-prodded, and burned for 7 hours with no help from Obama or Hillary. No impeachment inquiry,” the post states. 

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The post also features a photo of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during her testimony at the impeachment inquiry into the president: “This ambassador had her feelings hurt by President Trump. Must impeach now!”

In the falsely identified photo, soldiers are restraining a blindfolded soldier. One soldier is holding a device that delivers electric shocks near the man’s groin. The device, known as a electric picana, was used for torture during this time in Argentina. According to information with the photo in AP’s photo archive, the Argentine government released the gruesome image in 2004 to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group. The group sought answers for an estimated 30,000 forced disappearances during the 1976-1983 “dirty war.”

In 2012, Republicans accused President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of misleading the public and stalling congressional investigators looking into the attack. The Republican-led congressional panel said the Obama administration was responsible for the security issues at the complex in Libya. Ultimately, the report found that Clinton had not committed any wrongdoing. 

According to AP reporting, Stevens was not tortured but was killed when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate in an attempt to evacuate staff during an attack by a mob firing-machine-guns and grenades. 

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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