A series of photos showing what looks like a scene from a horror film have been widely circulated online over the past week. The grisly images appear to show an executioner cutting up human remains with a chainsaw. Some people have alleged that the images were taken from a security camera that captured the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that the footage was recently released by Turkish authorities. But it turns out that’s not true – in reality, the images are screengrabs from a TV show.
Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based columnist, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and never came out again. In the days following his disappearance, Saudi Arabia changed its version of events several times. However, on November 15, the Saudi attorney general finally admitted that Khashoggi had been drugged and then dismembered inside the consulate. Since then, 11 out of a total of 21 suspects in the murder have been brought before the court and charged. The attorney general sentenced five to death.
People have been sharing disturbing photos along with captions such as “a man carrying a chainsaw was spotted by security cameras in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul” or “Breaking: Turkey has published security camera footage showing the body of Jamal Khashoggi being dismembered inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.. to put [the pieces] in a box ready for export”. Since November 15, the posts have been shared by social media users from all over the world, who speak a variety of languages, including English, Arabic, Turkish and French.
The France 24 Observers team tried to verify these images using our usual technique of running a reverse image search, but we didn’t have any luck. We also tried to find out where the logo visible on the images came from; we couldn’t trace that either.
But we had a breakthrough when we contacted the administrator of one of the pages that had shared these images. Hamam Lif is a Tunisian Facebook page that shares a lot of viral photos and videos. The administrator of this page admitted that he had copied these images from a French TV police drama. Despite our queries, he did not explain why he had tried to trick his Facebook followers.
Exchange between our journalist and the administrator of the Haman Lif page (translated from French):
FRANCE 24: I am currently researching a series of three photos that you posted on your page that supposedly show Jamal Khashoggi’s body. Can we talk about it? Thank you for your help.
Haman-liF: Haman-liF received your message. We will respond as quickly as we can. Thank you for your patience.
FRANCE 24: Hello, thanks for your response. We are trying to find out more about the photos that you posted on your page. Do you know which channel the Turkish government first gave these images to?
Haman-liF: I respect your work but they aren’t real.
FRANCE 24: What do you mean?
Haman-liF: Truth is […I] took them from a TV series
On [French channel] Canal +
FRANCE 24: Ah, ok. What episode?
Haman-liF: The one that went out yesterday.
The police drama "Braquo", which runs on the French TV channel Canal +, has been going for four seasons.
We reached out to the actor who plays the executioner in this scene.
It turns out that he posted a disclaimer on Facebook on November 16, assuring the public that these images show him playing the role of the executioner in this Canal + TV series, and not Khashoggi’s murder.
Facebook post by Marc Notari (translated from French):
Well, that’s just crazy
Look at what is circulating [online]
People have been led to believe that this is a horrible murder committed by the Saudis
Basically, the comments are pretty awful
IN FACT, I’M THE KILLER
BUT IN THE TV SERIES BRAQUO ON CANAL +
The footage was taken from a TV movie.
In an interview with the France 24 Observers, Notari said that he had been “very surprised to see these images circulating on social media”.
“In that scene, I play the role of a hitman who is employed by the Turkish mafia,” he explained. “I think that episode is from the end of the 4th season of Braquo.”
We looked into it and it turns out that the scene showing Notari as the executioner is from episode 5 in season 4. You see the images six minutes into the episode.
Here are several screengrabs showing the scene in its original context. We took these screengrabs from Canal +’s streaming site, mycanal.
READ ON THE OBSERVERS >> No, images of Khashoggi’s body have not been leaked online