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Fact-checker’s identity stolen to spread disinfo about NATO and COVID-19

Forged letter and a persona based on a real journalist used to spread disinfo about NATO withdrawing troops from Lithuania

(Source: @nikaaleksejeva via Lietuva Mano Tevyne/archive)

The forged letter

Matching Jens Stoltenberg’s signatures. Note the perfect match which would not be possible if the signature in the letter was authentic. (Source: Lietuva Mano Tevyne/archive, left; Wikimedia Commons/archive, top right)
English-language outlets that shared false news about NATO withdrawing troops from Lithuania. (Source: DFRLab via BuzzSumo)

Impersonating a real journalist

Fringe media outlets use Petkauskas’s name to spread disinformation about NATO withdrawing troops from Lithuania. (Source: The Duran/archive, top left; OpEd News/archive, top right; OpEd News/archive, bottom)
Google blog and YouTube account “Lietuva Mano Tevyne” used Petkauskas’ identity to spread false news and the letter. (Source: Lietuva Mano Tevyne/archive, top; 15min.lt/archive, bottom left; 15min.lt/archive, bottom right)
Comparison of some of the earlier stories that appeared on viliuspetkauskas.blogspot.com with stories that Petkauskas has published on 15min.lt. The titles, images and dates of the publications match. Title of the top article translated from Lithuanian: “False statements about Ingrida Šimonytė are distributed on a social network”; title of the bottom article translated from Lithuanian: “Distorted examples on the Internet create a negative image of NATO soldiers.” (Source: Lietuva Mano Tevyne/archive, top left; 15min.lt/archive, top right; Lietuva Mano Tevyne/archive, bottom left; 15min.lt/archive, bottom right)
The source code of the viliuspetkauskas.blogspot.com article titled “Distorted examples on the Internet create a negative image of NATO soldiers.” Note the time — April 2020 — in the hyperlink that structurally involves the article that was supposedly posted in May 2019. (Source: Lietuva Mano Tevyne/archive)

Previous information attacks on the journalist

Articles attempting to refute Petkauskas’s fact-checks and call him a liar. Translated from Lithuanian from left to right: “Be careful: lying “15min.lt” journalist Vilius Petkauskas !!!”; “Functional idiot Vilius Petkauskas and his embraced Estonian master decided: K. Juraitis announces a mix of Russian lies about the “conspiracy of the elites”; “Gabrielius Sevrukas: Writing feather virtuoso Vilius Petkauskas accuses me of fake news” (Source: bukimevieningi.lt/archive, left; LDiena.lt/archive, middle; Minfo.lt/archive, right)

Disinformation continued to spread

A one-off YouTube account named Nikolas Ratas kept sharing the forged letter. (Source: Nikolas Ratas/archive)
Article questioning the debunk of the forged letter by the Lithuanian MoD (Source: The Baltic Word/archive)
RT’s misleading translation of Die Welt’s article, presenting the Stoltenberg’s letter as true. (Source: RT/archive)
Engagement on social media for RT’s article. (Source: DFRLab via BuzzSumo)



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@AtlanticCouncil's Digital Forensic Research Lab. Catalyzing a global network of digital forensic researchers, following conflicts in real time.