Skeptics Question Story of Kidnapped Syrian Lesbian Blogger

On Monday I posted a story about Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, an out lesbian blogger from Damascus, Syria, who was allegedly seized by three men with government connections. The story has been picked up by all kinds of mainstream outlets, and now the story, as well as Araf's existence are being questioned.

Amina The NYT writes, as a follow-up to its story about the abduction:

Although it remains possible that the blog’s author was indeed detained, and has been writing a factual, not fictional, account of recent events in Syria, readers should be aware that the one person who has identified herself — to The Times, the BBC and Al Jazeera — as a personal friend of the blogger, Sandra Bagaria, has now clarified that she has never actually met the author of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog. Ms. Bagaria told The Lede that she had also never conversed with Ms. Arraf face to face via Skype, but had conducted an online relationship with her since January entirely through Internet communications in writing, including more than 500 e-mails.

Other details have emerged as well. WebProNews adds:

 A particular photo (see right), supposedly of Amina, was posted to the newly erected Facebook page and the media, both internet based and traditional, used the photo to identify Amina. It appears, however, that the picture that was circulating may not actually be Amina.

According to the WSJ, a London woman is saying that the photos supposedly of Amina Abdallah are actually in fact photos of her. The woman, Jelena Lecic, provided proof in the form of more photos that appeared to match the ones being passed off as Amina. Apparently Lecic’s ex-husband spotted the photos being circulated as Amina and recognized his ex-wife.

The whole thing could be a hoax.

Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:00am ETC by Andy Towle
in News, Syria