Trudeau deletes tweet sharing false information that Iran sentenced 15,000 to death

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deleted a tweet Tuesday that falsely stated Iran had sentenced 15,000 protesters to death — a claim that has been widely circulating on social media in recent days.

The inaccurate tweet was live on Trudeau’s official Twitter account for almost 12 hours before it was deleted.

It was ultimately scrapped because it had been “informed by initial reporting that was incomplete and lacked necessary context,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement sent to Global News.

“(The tweet) was based on reporting of serious concerns raised by international human rights advocates warning of possible future sentences, including the death penalty, imposed on thousands of Iranian protesters who have already been detained by the regime,” a spokesperson said.

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However, the tweet did not describe “possible future sentences,” but rather stated that the death sentences had already been handed down.

“Canada denounces the Iranian regime’s barbaric decision to impose the death penalty on nearly 15,000 protestors,” Trudeau’s now-deleted tweet read.

“These brave Iranians were fighting for their human rights – and we continue to stand united in support of them, and united against the regime’s heinous actions.”

Trudeau isn’t the only person who shared the false information.

An image had been shared on a popular Instagram meme page — one that boasts a million followers — showing a woman holding an Iranian flag alongside the text “Iran sentences 15,000 protesters to death – as a ‘hard lesson’ for all rebels.”

Instagram has since added a link to the post explaining it was “false” and that “independent fact-checkers say this information has no basis in fact.”

Another version of the post, which has since been taken down, was shared by celebrities including actresses Sophie Turner and Viola Davis, according to CNN. Two news outlets, Newsweek and Yahoo Entertainment, also erroneously claimed in their reporting that 15,000 protesters had been sentenced to die.

To date, the Iranian regime has sentenced one person to death, and its state-sponsored news outlet PressTV has reported that Iranian lawmakers are calling for “firm punishment” of those involved in the protests.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that one person has already been sentenced to death, and that Iranian parliamentarians should not call for any death sentences to be imposed,” the PMO statement said.

“Already, dozens of protesters have been killed by the regime’s security forces. Our government continues to unequivocally support the people of Iran and are taking unprecedented action to hold the regime and its enablers accountable.”

On Monday, Canada designated Iran as a regime that has engaged in “terrorism” as well as the systematic and gross violation of human rights.

The move, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said, means tens of thousands of senior members of the Iranian regime — including many members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — will now be “inadmissible to Canada.”

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It’s the latest in a series of sanctions Canada and its allies, including the U.K. and the U.S., have been steadily slapping on Iran in recent months.

Iran has been engaged in a brutal crackdown on protesters amid nationwide protests. The demonstrations first erupted over the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s so-called morality police.

She was detained for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Although the protests first focused on Iran’s mandatory headscarf, or hijab, they have since transformed into one of the greatest challenges to the ruling clerics since the chaotic years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian authorities announced late last month that they will hold public trials for 1,000 people over the protests that have convulsed the country.

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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