A fake news report claiming President Trump offered asylum to Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses after Russia banned the religion has been debunked. Fake news is on the rise and it’s imperative the public utilize tools to determine fake news from the real truth. Like many fake news stories, this claim mixes fact with fiction. The story was reported on several fake news sites according to a PolitiFact article and went viral on social media networks. President Trump has never stated he was offering asylum to Russian Jehovah’s Witness. The news that Russia has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from practicing in the country is truthful, but the report that President Trump has offered help or assistance to those in Russia is not.
Three fake news sites ran with the story claiming President Trump would intervene by offering Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses asylum. They are States-TV.com, Fox-News24.com, and Houston Chronicle-TV.com according to the above PolitiFact report. The articles reported the same unsubstantiated and unverified quote and attributed it to President Trump.
“You know right that this is contrary to the constitution of the land of the Russia Federation. I request you to reverse the decision immediately before I use your own constitution against you” – Trump warned.”
The fake news sites continued stating that President Trump then invited all Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses to come seek asylum in America.
“As this is an infringement on your fundamental human rights, I therefore urge you to seek asylum in the United States until your rights are fully reinstated.”
As President Trump is the president of the United States, he simply doesn’t make speeches, declarations, or even tweets without there being a record or transcript. There are no quotes, videos, or other statements showing President Trump making an invitation to Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Unfortunately for those in Russia, the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is true. As NPR reported, the religion was banned on grounds that it promoted extremist activities. The official Jehovah’s Witnesses site also released updates regarding the Russian supreme court ruling against JWs. The anti-extremist basis for the ban has drawn ire from many within the Jehovah’s Witnesses as the group refuses to go to war.
Another fake news site shared a photo of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump from the National Prayer Service that was held following Trump’s inauguration and wrote a fake news story saying it was a prayer service for Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses. The original photo can be viewed on the C-Span website along with the full video from the National Prayer Service. If you look at the fake news site as it has been archived, you’ll see the photo was taken from the National Prayer Service.
Because it is extremely easy to share news stories, it is imperative that people check sources and determine whether a story is based on truthful facts or fake news before sharing it on social media.
The fake news story has several flags that can help readers identify the story as fraudulent. First, if you look at the URLs for each website that shared the fake news story, you’ll notice they are similar to legitimate news sites. This is a common tactic used to fool unsuspecting people. Each of the fake news sites’ names are similar to those of legitimate news organizations. The second red flag is that there are purported quotes by President Trump, yet no links to an original source. Additionally, there are no videos showing President Trump making statements regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses Russian ban or an invitation for Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses to come to the United States. The articles had no sources, no links, and no videos, and the URLs were similar to legitimate news sources. These show that the reports are fake news.
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