Fake Twitter handles for Pakistani missions in Washington and New York dupe a few media outlets

Washington: Pakistan's missions in Washington and New York were targeted by fake twitter accounts which alleged that the two consulates were raided by US law enforcement agencies in  connection with the Ohio terror attack by a Somalian refugee who had reportedly lived in Pakistan.

The two twitter accounts, in particularly Pakistan Embassy UN (@PakEmbassyUN) appeared that it was being handled personally by Maleeha Lodhi, the Pakistani Ambassador to the
UN. In the fake tweet, Lodhi alleged that the Ohio Police, a day earlier raided the Pakistani Embassy in Washington in connection with the terrorist attack carried by Abdul Razak Ali Artan.


Sartaj Aziz, defacto foreign minister of Pakistan and NSA. AFP

Artan, a Somalian refugee who reportedly lived in Pakistan for a few years before coming to the US, injured as many as 11 people early this week before he was shot and killed by the Ohio Police.

In this fake account Lodhi alleged that the federal police is now raiding the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN in New York.

"Shame that after Ohio Police raid yesterday on Pakistan Embassy, Washington DC their Twitter account is also suspended by FBI. #OhioStateAttack," the fake twitter account said. "Federal police have confiscated some documents of our Embassy in New York regarding #OhioStateAttack," said the second tweet from the same account.

"We have bent our flag at Embassy as a protest to the raid regarding #OhioStateAttack. Embassy in New York will remain closed today," said another tweet, which had a picture of Lodhi.

Later in the day, both the Pak Embassy in Washington and its Permanent Mission to the UN in New York issued statements, saying that these are fake accounts and have taken up the matter with Twitter. "Baseless and false information is being spread on the social media through fake Twitter accounts impersonating the Permanent Mission of Pakistan and Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi. The Permanent Mission has only one twitter account which is @PakistanUN_NY," the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN said.

"The Mission has taken up this issue with the Twitter administration in order to block all unauthorised and fake accounts," it said.

The Pakistan Embassy in Washington also issued similar statement on twitter. "It's reiterated that some fake twitter accounts are spreading baseless and unauthentic information and pictures which are not linked with the Pakistan Embassy," the embassy said in a tweet.

Lodhi who has 1,38,000 followers also tweeted the statement. By late night tweets from @PakinUS appeared to have been deleted, while those of @PakEmbassyUN still appeared to be there.
One of these tweets also reflected a fake twitter account of Sartaj Aziz, who is the foreign policy advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Several credible media outlets in South Asia even reported about these raids without realising that such an act was unprecedented and would have created a major international crisis, as it would have been in violation of several UN and Vienna conventions.

The diplomatic missions are considered as sovereign territory and the law enforcement agencies of that country have no permission to enter its premises. This comes at a time when the American media is abuzz with fake stories on the social media and how it was used to influence the recently concluded elections.

Updated Date: Dec 01, 2016 13:24 PM

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