Fars News sinks to new depths with fake Saudi warship story

The actual Saudi warship, Al-Madinah, returned to base in Jeddah after completing its Yemen mission. (SPA)
Updated 07 February 2017
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Fars News sinks to new depths with fake Saudi warship story

JEDDAH: An Iranian news agency has been widely mocked for a report about a Saudi warship that “sunk” — on the same day the actual vessel docked at a naval base in Jeddah. 
The semi-official Fars News Agency posted a story that claimed a Saudi frigate had been destroyed, accompanied by a picture of a sinking ship.
But as eagle-eyed Twitter users pointed out, this was yet another example of “fake news.”
The picture used to illustrate the Fars News story was actually that of a US Navy ship sunk by a torpedo from an Australian submarine during a 2012 military exercise.
The real Saudi ship had actually returned to base on Sunday morning after completing its mission, despite having been targeted last month by Houthi suicide attackers. 
Many Twitter users commented on the Fars story, pointing out the attempted deception and accusing the outlet of producing “fake news.”
The award-winning journalist, Yaroslav Trofimov, who writes a column on the greater Middle East for The Wall Street Journal, tweeted: “Funny how Iranian state news agency illustrates Saudi frigate with the photo of USS Kilauea, sank in 2012.”
Others posted links to accounts of the fate of the 12,100-ton Kilauea, which was purposefully sunk during a military exercise in the Pacific Ocean.
Numerous pictures — one of which was misappropriated by Fars — show the US vessel being used in target practice.
The Fars story also implied that “Yemeni missiles” downed the Saudi warship, saying without solid evidence that Israeli authorities are worried about the firepower used in the claimed attack.
But as a video of the Houthi assault on the Saudi warship shows, the damage to the boat was inflicted after one of the attacker boats rammed into the rear of the Saudi vessel.
Two Saudi crew members were killed and three others were injured in the suicide attack on the Al-Madinah warship, part of the Royal Saudi Navy, in late January.
Despite that attack, pictures show the warship returning to the King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah, after completing its duties without any delay as a result of the attack by the Iran-backed insurgents.
It is not the first time Fars has got in hot water over fake news.
In 2012 it was moved to apologize to readers for republishing a news article by the US satirical website The Onion — but claiming it as fact.
Fars picked up a story about a made-up survey showing that the majority of rural white Americans would rather vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the then Iranian president, than Barack Obama, according to press reports at the time.
As one Twitter user posted following Fars News’s more recent story on the Saudi warship: “Farce News to be more accurate!”


Suspect in killing of Mexican journalist arrested

Updated 24 April 2018
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Suspect in killing of Mexican journalist arrested

MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities arrested a suspect in the killing of internationally recognized journalist Javier Valdez on Monday night, Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida said.
Navarrete said via Twitter late in the evening that federal agents in a joint operation had just arrested the “presumed (person) responsible for the killing,” but provided no details.
Valdez was gunned down in a street in Culiacan in the western state of Sinaloa on May 15, 2017.
He was known outside Mexico for his deeply nuanced books about the intersection of drug cartels, politicians and other segments of society. Inside Mexico, he was respected as a veteran journalist who generously shared his knowledge and kept readers informed with a regular column in Riodoce, a publication he helped found.
His killing led to a resounding outcry, but the killings of Mexican journalists have continued. At least 10 journalists, including Valdez, were killed in 2017.
Isamel Bojorquez, Riodoce’s editor and a friend of Valdez, confirmed the news. He said the suspect was arrested in the border city of Tijuana and was a member of an organized crime group. He declined to say which one, but said it had to do with the war that the Sinaloa cartel is in.


Riodoce later reported that Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, the federal special prosecutor in charge of investigating crimes against journalists, said in an interview that the suspect was a 26-year-old known by the alias “Koala.”
The news site reported that the motive of the killing was related to information Valdez had published weeks before his slaying. Sanchez told the site that the suspect was driving the car that intercepted Valdez. There were allegedly three attackers in the car.
The Sinaloa cartel has been battling within itself and with the Jalisco New Generation cartel for territory in western Mexico, especially since the 2016 capture of Sinaloa’s former leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and his subsequent extradition to the US last year.
The vacuum left by Guzman was contested by his sons and Damaso Lopez, Guzman’s right-hand man. Weeks before his murder, Valdez had interviewed Lopez, the outlet’s first interview of a cartel capo.
“Chapo’s sons found out that we had interviewed Damaso and they pressured Javier (Valdez) to not publish the story,” Bojorquez wrote in a column after his friend’s slaying. “But we refused the request.”
The national security commissioner scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning.