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George Soros was not arrested for election interference

November 23, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: A recently unsealed indictment filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania shows that billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros has been arrested for several serious crimes related to interference in the 2020 election.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Court records show no such arrest. These bogus claims are based on a phony document, which appears to show charges against Soros, but is actually an indictment against six Russian hackers that was altered to insert Soros’ name.

THE FACTS: A frequent boogeyman for bizarre conspiracy theories became a target again on Monday as social media users widely shared a fake federal indictment aimed at George Soros.

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The altered document was made to look like a record of various charges facing Soros, including wire fraud, damage to computers and identity theft.

It was fabricated from a real federal indictment accusing six Russian intelligence officers of cyberattacks that targeted a French presidential election, the Winter Olympics in South Korea and American businesses. 

Those individuals’ names were edited out of an image of the indictment and Soros’ name was edited into it, according to an Associated Press analysis comparing the shared image with the real indictment of the Russian officers. The analysis, which involved the use of digital forensic tools, revealed visual clues indicating part of the image was altered.

The fake document gained traction on social media after conservative websites published stories pushing the false claim.

“George Soros ARRESTED for election interference, in federal custody,” read the headline of a story published Monday by the Canadian blog the Conservative Beaver.

The story also claimed the judge had put a “publication ban” on the unsealed indictment, a phenomenon that wouldn’t be possible in the United States justice system.

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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