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NATI flag in Vilnius, Lithuania
Image Source:
Ben Robinson

Fabricated news article falsely claims child killed by NATO vehicles in Lithuania

Author(s):
II Op Ed

A news report has been fabricated to spread false claims that a child was hit and killed by US armoured vehicles during a NATO exercise in Lithuania.

A blog posted a report that looked like it had been published on the real and very popular Lithuanian news portal Delfi.

It is true that four US army Stryker vehicles collided on 7 June while driving between Kaunas and Prienai in Lithuania during the Saber Strike 2018 exercise. According to initial reports, an obstacle suddenly appeared on the road and one of the vehicles began to brake quickly. The other vehicles then crashed one into another.

Thirteen US soldiers who had been travelling in the vehicles received minor injuries, but no civilians were hurt. After the incident, the Gelezinisvilkassite blog posted a faked article with the headline “Child dies during NATO Saber Strike 2018 exercise in Lithuania”. The headline and an image of an armoured vehicle with a broken child’s bicycle lying in front of it and what looks like a body lying behind it were very badly photoshopped.

 

Photoshopped fake news

 

Later, the link to the fake report was posted from the Facebook account of Ivars Ulmanis to the official accounts of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, the NATO Force Integration Unit for Lithuania and the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence. LAF, NFIU and NATO ENSEC COE deleted the link from their comments sections.

During a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Belgium on 8 June, Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said:

      “This is a very typical example of hostile information, and proves we are already being watched and are in an information war.

      We have no doubt that this was a deliberate and coordinated attempt aiming to provoke the public to condemn our allies, as well as discredit the exercise and our joint efforts to strengthen defence.”

On 8 June, the falsified report began to spread on Russian news websitesand social networks.

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