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Video of EU flag removal in Italy is from 2013, not 2022

September 27, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows Italians taking down the European Union flag and replacing it with Italy’s flag after a right-wing group, Brothers of Italy, won its national election.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video, filmed on Dec. 14, 2013, in Rome, shows a member of a neo-fascist group, CasaPound, tearing down the E.U. flag.

THE FACTS: Following the victory of a party with neo-fascist roots in the country’s national election on Monday, social media users are sharing a nearly 10-year-old video to falsely claim it shows a crowd’s reaction to what is set to be Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II.

The video shows a man climbing up a ladder to a balcony to remove the E.U. flag, displayed outside the E.U. Commission office in Rome. A crowd of people chant and wave Italian flags before police break up the group of protesters.

“EU Flag Ripped Down as Right-Wing Party sweeps Italian elections,” an Instagram post, which features a screenshot of the video states.

But the video was filmed in 2013 and was also uploaded to YouTube on Dec. 14. It shows a member of CasaPound, a neo-fascist group, removing the flag, not Italians demonstrating after the recent election. Multiple local media outlets also posted photos and videos of the incident.

CasaPound said in a statement on its website on Dec. 14, 2013, that its then-vice president, Simone Di Stefano, had been arrested for taking the E.U. flag. CasaPound stated that Di Stefano wanted to replace the E.U. flag with the tricolor flag to protest Italian involvement in the international organization.

While it’s not immediately clear who first filmed the video, dozens of local news outlets picked up the footage and reposted it in 2013. CasaPound also used a still frame from the same footage in its statement about the event, showing a man in a red, white and green mask and black jacket holding the blue E.U. flag from a balcony of the commission office. The group shared the video on its YouTube page, with the caption in Italian: “CasaPound blitz at European Union headquarters - flag stolen, police charges - December 14, 2013.”

On Monday, Brothers of Italy won the most votes in Italy’s national election, making Giorgia Meloni the country’s first woman premier, The Associated Press reported. Italy’s move to the far right places a eurosceptic party in position to lead a founding member of the European Union and its third-largest economy.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.