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France24 reported that Syria's ambassador to France resigned on air (inset video). But, the ambassador says it was a hoax. (Credit: France24, screenshot)

After reporting a hoax news story, a French TV news station has accused a woman of “identity theft and impersonation,” the Guardian reported.

France 24 interviewed who it thought was Syrian ambassador Lamia Shakkour, according to the Guardian.  In the interview, the woman announced she was stepping down from her post and stated “her opposition to the government crackdown against demonstrations in Syria.”

The New York Times reported that the resignation seemed legitimate “in large part because of its rationale and timing” following “violent clashes” in a Syrian town.

The interview with the fake Shakkour was obtained after France 24 asked Shakkour to “take part in its Debate programme about Syria,” according to the Guardian. The fake Shakkour reportedly responded to the request and provided a photo and phone number that the news station used to conduct the interview.

The report was “a scoop” for the TV station, but it wasn’t real, the Guardian explained.  The real Shakkour reportedly interviewed on another news station and claimed France 24 reported “misinformation.”  CNN added that Shakkour rebutted the resignation to TV station BFM-TV, a CNN affiliate.

CNN reported that Shakkour “threatened to sue” Frnace 24.  She is quoted as saying:

 “I am filing a complaint to the French tribunal and also to the international tribunal, and there will probably be some measures against France 24.

“It’s part of a campaign of misinformation by France 24, since the beginning of March, in which it gives voice only to dissidents of Syria and it falsifies videos.”

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France 24 also reportedly used “voice comparison analyses” and found out the voice of the real Shakkour is different from the one interviewed on France 24.

“That resignation was then confirmed in a wire published by the Reuters press agency, quoting the Syrian Embassy as its source,” the Guardian reported.

CNN reported that the fake Shakkour stated the reason for her  resignation is:

  “I cannot support the cycle of extreme violence … ignore the young men, women and children who have died.”

In a statement, France 24 reportedly commented that it expects the embassy will help in its charges against the Shakkour imposter:

“France 24 has no doubt that Ambassador Shakkour and the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic in France, who were swift to report the manipulation of which they, like France 24, appear to have been the victims, will give their total support to this complaint and collaborate fully in the ensuing investigations,” the network said.

See France 24’s report on the fake interview here.

iMediaEthics is writing to France 24 for comment and will update with any response.

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