FACT CHECK: Is This A Real Photo Of Julian Assange?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Twitter purports to show a photo of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Verdict: False

The image is digitally fabricated. Social media user @TheErrantFiend confirmed they used an artificial intelligence (AI) program to create the image.

Fact Check:

Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib recently asked her fellow House members to sign a letter ending the Justice Department’s prosecution of Assange, according to Fox News. Assange has been in jail since 2019 and faces prosecution in the U.S. over alleged violations of the Espionage Act, The Guardian reported.

“What the UK Government has done/is doing to Julian Assange is tantamount to torture. They disgust me. He is NOT the bad guy. That’s it. #FreeJulianAssange @Stella_Assange,” the Twitter post, viewed over 80,000 times, purports. The post includes a photo of Assange with a watermark that reads, “Property Of ‘E.'”

The image is digitally fabricated. The image has not been featured in any recent credible news reports about Assange. Likewise, the claim neither appears on WikiLeaks’ website nor its verified social media accounts. In addition, Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, has not publicly addressed the purported photo.

The image stems from a Mar. 29 Twitter post shared by @TheErrantFriend. “You absolutely MUST free Julian Assange. It is time sensitive, and urgent. He does not have another year to wait behind bars while the wheels of “justice” crush him slowly. Now is the moment. Now is when you speak, when you rise. #FreeAssangeNOW,” the post reads. (RELATED: Did Dutch Soccer Fans Hold Up A Pro-Julian Assange Flag?)

Social media user @TheErrantFiend confirmed they created the image using AI program Midjourneys version five via a Twitter direct message exchange with Check Your Fact.

“I used MidJourneys version 5, an AI image creator to carefully manufacture it, and then watermarked the photo for effect and so people understood where it came from,” @TheErrantFiend said.

“It was designed to evoke a visceral response and to accurately represent what the public could not otherwise bear witness to. I felt it important to give Julian’s plight a more human face, the face the Intelligence Community has worked overtime to erase,” the social media user continued.

This is not the first time Assange has been the subject of misinformation. Check Your Fact previously debunked an image in August 2022 allegedly showing Dutch soccer fans holding up a flag supporting Assange during a match.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter