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False: This photo does not show 12 arrested Hong Kongers being led into a courthouse in Shenzhen


(Editor's note: this article is first published by Annie Lab, a fact-checking project by Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong and Asian Network of News and Information Educators (ANNIE), and written by Fengjiaxin Li)

On Oct 22, a photo showing four people in protective gear and handcuffs was posted on Facebook with a claim that the 12 Hong Kongers arrested in August by Chinese coast guards while fleeing to Taiwan are being taken to a Shenzhen court.

Within a day, the post gained over 2,000 likes and 340 comments. According to social media tracking tool CrowdTangle, the same claim has garnered 64,000 interactions on Facebook alone.

The same claim can also be found on Reddit, Twitter and LIHKG although the Reddit post has since been deleted.

The claim is false. The photo in question was not taken in Shenzhen, nor did it have anything to do with the case of the 12 Hong Kong youths still detained in Shenzhen.

The picture in question is a screenshot from a video showing seven defendants charged with drug-related crimes walking into the courthouse of Taihe County, in central China’s Anhui province.

Through reverse image search, Annie Lab was able to find a tweet with the same claim in question, with an image from a different angle.

Screenshot of a tweet that includes another image of the same scene

One of the images shows a building with the name of a car repair shop. Some internet users suggested the court in the photo may be in Taihe County.

Annie Lab located the said store on the Baidu map and compared its location with the pictures in this May 2019 article which contained photos of the area outside the People’s Court of Taihe County.

Comparison of the photo from a tweet and another photo taken outside the Taihe courthouse. Baidu map shows the car repair shop is on the opposite side of the court.

A video clip posted by the People’s Court of Taihe County on their official account on Douyin, a video-sharing platform in China, is likely the source of the Facebook post.

The video says the trial of drug-related crimes involving seven defendants commenced on Oct. 20.

Disclaimer: This is a student work. Although faculty members at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong have done everything possible to verify its accuracy, we cannot guarantee there are no mistakes. If you notice an error or have any questions, please email us at [email protected]


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