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Police weren’t ordered to return fuel to Ottawa protesters

February 11, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Police in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, are returning fuel they seized from protesters in response to an order from a judge.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There is no court order requiring the police to give back seized fuel, according to a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. The Ottawa Police Service also confirmed that it isn’t returning fuel to protesters.

THE FACTS: False claims circulated widely on social media this week that a judge ordered police in Ottawa to return fuel they had previously seized from protesters opposed to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Judge orders Ottawa Police to return the confiscated fuel back to the truckers,” read one Tweet that was shared more than 8,000 times. Similarly, a Facebook user who shared video footage of people handling gasoline canisters wrote in a post on Wednesday, “Ottawa police returning all fuel they took from the truckers by Judges order. FREEDOM CONVOY 2022.”

But the claims are false, according to both the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. No such court order exists, nor is the police department giving fuel back to the demonstrators.

“The Ottawa Police are not returning seized items associated to the demonstration, such as fuel,” Constable Amy Gagnon, a spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Service, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Brian Gray, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, wrote in an email to the AP that court staff at the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa were “unable to locate any such order.”

Spokespersons for the Department of Justice Canada and the Federal Court in Canada referred the AP to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Demonstrators in Ottawa protesting COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine mandates, have used hundreds of parked trucks to disrupt the Canadian capital’s business district, the AP reported. The mayor of Ottawa has asked for almost 2,000 extra police officers to address the nightly demonstrations.

The Ottawa Police Service announced on Sunday night that it had seized multiple vehicles and fuel, along with taking a variety of other enforcement actions, including arrests.

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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.