London gold exchange, Swedish MP’s extradition: Misinformation challenge

This week, the claim that Central Bank exchanged 450 tons of gold in London into dollars, and the claim that Turkey demanded the extradition of Kurdish Swedish MP Aminah Kakabaveh from Sweden went viral on social media without confirmation. (Illustration: YetkinReport )

These days, whatever you say on social media is spreading faster than the speed of sound. The opposition spread “flash news/breaking news” while the government-supporters other, regardless of what that news entails. One of the examples of these “breaking news” that dissident social media users blindly shared without fact-checking was the news alleged that the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey has exchanged some 450 tons of gold from the Bank of England in London and converted them in US Dollars. The other was the news that Turkey requested the extradition of a Kurdish Swedish MP from Sweden on the grounds that she was a PKK member.

Did Turkey request the extradition of the Kurdish MP?

Let’s start with the second one. The name of the Swedish-Kurdish MP is Aminah Kakabaveh. First of all, a small detail, she was born in Iran, not Turkey. In other words, even if her extradition was in question, her country of origin is not Turkey. Let’s continue. Kakabaveh was going to be expelled from the Left Party, of which she was a member, in 2019 due to her “Islamobic, anti-Islamic attitude”, and she resigned and remained independent. A vote of confidence was given to the Social Democrat-Green coalition, which has only 116 seats in Sweden’s 349-member parliament, on the condition of supporting the Kurds in Syria, namely the People’s Defence Units (PDU/YPG).

Two days ago, it announced that it withdrew its support due to its decision to meet with Turkey, which blocks Sweden’s NATO membership due to its policy regarding the Kurdish militia PKK and its derivatives. This could mean the collapse of the already fragile coalition if it did not find other support before the September 2022 elections.

Ambassador: Out of question

At that time, Afton Bladet, one of the respected Swedish newspapers, covered a story that Turkey would request the extradition of Kakabaveh, referring to the Turkish Ambassador. Although the newspaper later shared digitally that there might be a misunderstanding but that statement changed nothing. Many “opposition groups” in Turkey jumped on this news. “See! President Tayyip Erdoğan and his government wanted to extradite and prosecute even a Swedish MP just because she is Kurdish even though she was of Iranian origin” was the pretext of these social media shares.

I called Emre Yunt, the Turkish Ambassador to Stockholm, whose name is mentioned in the news.

“It’s out of the question, quite the opposite,” he said.

Yes, the journalist asked such a question and he replied the question saying “this is not the case, the person is a Swedish citizen and a member of the Swedish parliament”, adding that such proceedings would require complex judicial processes.

“We know that this deputy is working against Turkey and for the PKK-YPG, but we did not make such a request,” he said.

In addition, he himself did not mention the name of the deputy the questioner did. It was possible to reach the Ambassador by phone.

Turkey exchanged gold in London

The issue of the deputy’s extradition was also crowned with the news that the government had exchanged 450 tons of gold in London and converted it into dollars and given it to the market to relieve the economic distress.

In fact, the news was that the gold in Bank of England temporarily traded at an unusually low price, indicating that a country had exchanged large amount of gold in London. In the following hours, it was also written that this was an Asian country, but that also changed nothing. The news spread, and comments and predictions were made.

However, according to the latest data announced by the CBRT, Turkey’s total gold stock was close to 690 tons, of which 78 tons were in the British Central Bank in London. Most of the gold, 349 tons, was in Borsa İstanbul and 34 tons of it was in the Central Bank.

This kind of obscure, “it must be” news increases the information pollution and causes real scandals to be underestimated.

Our proverb says, instead of having a stupid friend, have a smart enemy.

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