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DEBUNKED

Debunked: Fake news report in Kenya falsely says deputy PM helped Rwandan war crimes suspect

Screengrab of a fabricated news report circulating on WhatsApp in Kenya that falsely alleges collaboration between Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Rwandan businessman Felicien Kabuga, accused of financing the Rwandan genocide.
Screengrab of a fabricated news report circulating on WhatsApp in Kenya that falsely alleges collaboration between Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Rwandan businessman Felicien Kabuga, accused of financing the Rwandan genocide. ©
Text by: Diana Liu
4 min

A fabricated news report circulating on WhatsApp in Kenya falsely alleges collaboration between Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Felicien Kabuga, a Rwandan businessman recently captured and accused of financing the Rwandan genocide. The report features graphics and images taken from France 24 footage, but with a commentary added that makes unsupported allegations about Ruto and Kabuga. Neither the report nor the commentary were ever broadcast by France 24.

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On November 11, Kabuga attended a pre-trial hearing at the Hague on charges including complicity in genocide and incitement to commit genocide in connection with the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994. He had been arrested in Paris in May more than two decades after being indicted. 

Ruto was indicted by the International Criminal Court for suspected involvement in Kenya’s post-election unrest in 2007-2008, but the charges were dropped in 2016. 

The false video report makes unfounded claims that Ruto helped Kabuga hide out in Nairobi and that the two men conspired to commit murder. There is no evidence or indication of any collaboration between the two men. 

This fake TV report circulating on WhatsApp in Kenya features France 24 graphics but was never broadcast by France 24.

Here’s why the video is fake:

The video features graphical elements that do not conform to France 24’s style

Although the video was edited to include France 24’s logo and visual opening, stylistic details that are not in line with France 24’s editorial standards reveal it to be fake.

The cover image of the video, which shows images of Deputy President Ruto and Mr. Kabuga above an onscreen graphic stating “Kenya Deputy President Wiliam Ruto linked to Rwandese Genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga”, is not in France 24’s graphical style. The font is incorrect, and the headline contains a spelling error (“Wiliam” instead of “William”). 

(Left) Screengrab of the fake video edited with France 24 graphics (RIght) Screengrab of a real France 24 video with a different font and graphic style
(Left) Screengrab of the fake video edited with France 24 graphics (RIght) Screengrab of a real France 24 video with a different font and graphic style ©

(Left) Screengrab of the fake video edited with France 24 graphics (RIght) Screengrab of a real France 24 video with a different font and graphic style

The voiceover commentary is heavily accented and uses pronunciation that is not in line with France 24’s editorial standards. The voice says “Rwandese” while France 24 journalists say “Rwandan” for instance. 

The video contains a hodgepodge of clips sourced from around the Internet

After performing a reverse image search using InVid, an online video verification tool, the France 24 Observers team was able to identify the different online clips edited together in the video.

Images of Mr. Kabuga’s initial appearance at The Hague from 0:12 to 0:27 were taken from an IRMCT (International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals) video of his pre-trial hearing on November 11. The images feature the IRMCT’s logo in the top right corner.

At 0:28, the video cuts to an image of a United Nations flag, taken from this genuine France 24 news report about Mr. Kabuga’s transfer to a U.N. tribunal on June 3. The video continues to use clips from this news report until 0:47, including images of Mr. Kabuga and a slow zoom-in on a “Wanted for Genocide” poster featuring the businessman.

The real France 24 news report, from which certain clips were taken and edited into the fake news report.

At 1:05, the video shows an image of what looks like a police evidence board with images of Mr. Kabuga. This image is actually taken from the trailer for Netflix’s “World’s Most Wanted” series, released in August.

A shorter version of the video was uploaded to Twitter on November 20, where it has garnered 1.7k views.

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