Spain’s first conviction for publishing fake news

by Lorraine Williamson
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MADRID – For the first time, a judge in Spain has condemned the spread of “fake news”. The defendant in the case, an agent of the Guardia Civil, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for publishing a false video. 

In the video he posted on Twitter, the authorship of a sexual assault was attributed to migrant minors in Spain when it actually took place in China. Before the court of Barcelona, ​​the defendant admitted the facts and accepted a sentence for a crime against fundamental rights. That punishment consists of a fine of €1,620, a five-year ban from teaching or performing sports activities and 15 months in prison. 

The Public Prosecution Service initially demanded a prison sentence of two years but asked as a condition of suspension that the accused cannot use profiles on social networks for two years 

The defendant’s defence pointed out to the court that the defendant has no criminal record and agreed to close his profiles on social networks. He must also take an equality course to avoid jail time. 

Fake news video of an attack in China 

According to the Public Prosecution Service, the suspect posted a video of a brutal attack on a young woman on July 1, 2019. The suspect suggested that it was footage of a rape that had recently taken place in Canet de Mar (Barcelona). 

The 45-second video, which has been viewed 21,900 times, showed a man brutally attacking a woman, kicking and punching her, before trying to pull down her pants before finally grabbing her hair and dragging her to the floor. 

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“Here you have the video of the Moroccan MENA [underage asylum seekers] from Canet de Mar, of those we are going to pay wages until they are 23 years old, the children of Pedrito Piscinas. By the way, for more rapes, these madmen and these herds of Moroccans do not appear in the media,” reads the tweet accompanying the video. 

However, the recording had nothing to do with the assault that took place in Canet de Mar but was a video of an assault that took place in China in June 2019 and was released by the authorities of that country to track down the perpetrator. 

“Hostility and Rejection of Foreign Immigrants” 

The Public Prosecution Service said in a letter that the defendant was prompted to act “by his hostility and rejection of foreign immigrants of Moroccan origin and among them the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied minors.” 

The defendant’s Twitter profile contained numerous xenophobic messages and distorted or false information about immigrants in general. Furthermore, the defendant published or shared the use of symbols such as the Celtic cross (often used by ultras, Nazis and supremacists) and the Ku Klux Klan motto “we must ensure the survival of our race and preserve a future for white children.” 

The Guardia Civil opens a disciplinary file 

The Guardia Civil has opened a disciplinary file on the agent, and sources from the institute have informed Europa Press. The police took this measure after being informed of the court’s verdict. In addition, it has been confirmed that the author of the video’s publication is an agent of the Guardia Civil in Barcelona. 

Also read: How to identify online fake news, scams and frauds

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