FACT CHECK: Has Italian President Sergio Mattarella Been Arrested?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook over 250 times claims Italian President Sergio Mattarella has been arrested.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Mattarella has been arrested. The person the Facebook post suggests is Mattarella is actually outgoing U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.

Fact Check:

The Jan. 8 Facebook post making the claim includes a photo of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walking outside with a white-haired man behind him who appears to have his arms behind his back. Combined with the caption, the post seemingly suggests the white-haired man in the photo is Mattarella being placed under arrest.

There is no evidence Mattarella has been arrested. Had the Italian president been arrested, it would have made headlines around the world, yet none could be found. Mattarella has continued to perform government duties in the week since the Facebook post made the claim, including meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the outgoing and incoming general commanders of the Carabinieri.

Mattarella is also not pictured in the image being shared, further adding to the Facebook post’s dubiousness. The photo, shared on Twitter by Pompeo on Jan. 7, appears to come from the secretary of state’s October 2020 visit to India. Pompeo visited New Delhi, India, from Oct. 26 to 27 last year, according to a fact sheet from the State Department.

In an Oct. 27, 2020 Mint article about Pompeo and then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper meeting with Indian officials during that visit, Pompeo can be seen in a photo with the same white-haired man visible in the Facebook post, both wearing the same clothes and face masks. The caption of the photo, which is credited to PTI, identifies the white-haired man as Juster, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to India.

Juster and Pompeo were photographed multiple times together during Pompeo’s October 2020 visit, according to Reuters. Juster also tweeted on Oct. 27 two photos of him welcoming Pompeo in New Delhi. (RELATED: Was Pope Francis Arrested On Charges Including Human Trafficking And Fraud?)

Check Your Fact didn’t find any media reports about Juster being arrested while Pompeo was in India. He has continued to perform his professional duties, including delivering a farewell address as ambassador to India last week and giving a speech about the groundbreaking of a new Chancery building this week.

The inaccurate claim about Mattarella getting arrested likely originates from a conspiracy theory known as “ItalyGate,” which baselessly suggests Italy meddled in the 2020 presidential election and switched votes from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. The conspiracy theory has previously been debunked by USA Today and Reuters.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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