Newspapers in Pakistan were hoaxed by phony WikiLeaks cables, the BBC reported. The newspapers reported information from hoax cables which presented “anti-Indian propaganda.”
“The fake cables are believed to have been planted by Pakistani intelligence,” according to the BBC.
The fake cables alleged that “Indian spies were supporting militants” and that U.S. diplomats had negative opinions of Indian generals, describing them as “incompetent” and “self-obsessed, petulant and idiosyncratic.”
The News said: “On further inquiries, we learnt from our sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted.”
Likewise, the Express Tribune, “a Pakistani affiliate of the International Herald Tribune,” reportedly addressed the hoax in a front-page retraction and apology.
The News Dec. 9 story based off the fake cables is still available on its website here. There was no correction appended to it as of Dec. 11 at 5:45 PM EST.
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But the News did publish a Dec. 10 story acknowledging the Dec. 9 story about the WikiLeaks cables wasn’t based on legitimate information. In the story, the News explained that the story was provided by “the Islamabad-based Online news agency” and published by “the News, Daily Jang and many other Pakistani newspapers.” .
The News further stated that since it believed the story “was a genuine report and must have been vetted before release.” Online news agency’s Mohsin Baig reportedly said he didn’t know where the fake report originated.
“On further inquiries, we learnt from our sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted,” the News continued.
The Guardian checked its WikiLeaks database and didn’t find the anti-Indian claims, it stated. That revelation “suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.”
Foreign Policy blogged about the fake reports.
“It’s actually surprising this hasn’t happened yet. The vast majority of the cables are still unreleased, but the newspapers which have access to them have often reported on some of the more salacious details before the original cables are actually available.”
StinkyJournalism is writing the The News, Daily Jang and Express Tribune to ask for comment.
UPDATE: 12/14/2010 10:36 AM EST: Kamal Siddiqi of the Express Tribune responded to StinkyJournalism’s inquiry just letting us know about the “clarification and apology” the newspaper issued over the hoax story. See here. The newspaper’s web editor, Jahanzaib Haque also passed on this editorial about the hoax, which ran both in the print and online editions of the newspaper.