30 qershor 2023
Deepfake of a pretended conversation between Hovenier and Kurti
Prepared by: Ridona Berisha
On June 26th, an audio recording was posted on Twitter, claiming to be a conversation between the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the American Ambassador Hovenier, regarding the arrest of Serbs in Kosovo. The news is false, and it was also debunked by the US Embassy itself. Furthermore, the audio recording attached to the photograph of Hovenier and Kurti is fabricated, and such a conversation between them never took place.
The spokesperson of the embassy, Katherine Judd, said that the alleged conversation did not take place and does not reflect the views of Ambassador Hovenier or the U.S. government.
"We urge the public to exercise caution regarding unverified sources of information, and for journalists to confirm with official sources before publishing potentially inflammatory, defamatory, or false information," she said.
At the top of the article, which has received thousands of views and shares, it is written that in this short audio recording, you can hear a conversation between American Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier and Albin Kurti, in which the ambassador complains that the rights of Serbs in the north are being violated.
While in the audio recording, manipulated voices of Ambassador Hovenier can be heard saying, "We are deeply concerned about the situation in the north right now and with all those baseless arrests of Serbs. I have to tell you that it needs to be stopped as soon as possible." Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Kosovo is heard responding as if he is telling the ambassador, "You must understand that we will arrest Serbs in the north of Kosovo and that we are not interested in whether they are criminally responsible or not." Furthermore, Kurti is heard saying that they are determined to put an end to this situation because "it is unacceptable that the north of Kosovo is excluded from the legal system of our country".
The entire content of this audio recording has been denied by the Office of the Prime Minister. The spokesperson of the Government of Kosovo, Përparim Kryeziu, has stated that the disturbing "deep fake" audio is currently circulating on various social media channels and platforms with the intention of deceiving the public.
This manipulative audio is being published at a time when the situation remains tense in the predominantly Serbian-populated north since May 26th, when Albanian mayors entered the municipal buildings under the assistance of special units of the Kosovo Police (KP). Serbs, through protests that escalated into clashes with KFOR, have been demanding the eviction of the mayors from the municipal buildings, which were previously managed by the Serbian List until the April 23rd elections, as well as the withdrawal of special units of the KP.
*This article is published as part of the Western Balkans Regional Initiative against disinformation. Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: exposing malign influences through watchdog journalism.
30 qershor 2023