False posts target Indonesian politician Anies Baswedan with 'corruption suspect' claim in early 2023

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A false claim that Indonesia's anti-graft agency has officially declared former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan a suspect in two high-profile corruption cases has circulated in videos posted on Facebook and YouTube, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. As of February 14, 2022, Indonesia's anti-graft agency had not named a suspect in both corruption cases and a representative for the agency told AFP investigations on the merit of the cases were ongoing. Videos in the posts feature a doctored image and use clips unrelated to the claim.

The false claim was shared in a video posted on Facebook here on January 31, 2023, where it has been viewed more than 18,000 times.

Indonesian-language text superimposed on the video's thumbnail reads: "Breaking News. Anies is officially a suspect. Acting Jakarta governor Heru Budi hands over accurate evidence of corruption to the KPK" -- referring to the Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission.

The video's thumbnail shows a photo of former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan wearing an orange vest -- which is usually worn by KPK detainees -- surrounded by a group of people.

The post's Indonesian-language caption reads: "Anies has officially become a suspect of Formula E and social assistance corruption. Acting Jakarta governor Heru Budi handed over this evidence to the KPK."

Screenshot of the false post, taken on February 9, 2023

President Joko Widodo appointed Heru Budi Hartono as acting Jakarta governor after Anies finished his term as governor of the Indonesian capital in October 2022.

Critics have accused Anies -- a presidential hopeful in Indonesia's 2024 elections -- of alleged corruption related to Jakarta's hosting of the Formula ePrix in 2022 and over pandemic aid distribution during his term as governor. However, his supporters say the allegations are a ploy to sabotage his presidential bid.

On September 7, 2022, KPK summoned and questioned Anies for 11 hours as part of its Formula ePrix probe, as reported by local media here, here and here.

Similar videos claiming Anies had officially been named a suspect in these cases have been viewed over 320,000 times on Facebook here, here and here; and on YouTube here and here.

Other YouTube posts -- such as here, here and here -- purporting KPK are investigating Anies for corruption also use the same thumbnail, suggesting that Anies has been detained by the KPK. The videos have racked up a total of more than 105.000 views since they were uploaded in late January and early February 2023.

However, the claim is false.

"Both cases are still in a preliminary investigation," KPK spokesman Ali Fikri told AFP on February 6, 2023, when asked if the agency had already named a suspect.

A preliminary investigation determines merit in complaints filed before the KPK. A suspect is named after the agency has concluded this investigation and is usually announced to the press.

As of February 14, 2023, AFP did not find any announcement from the KPK naming Anies a suspect in the graft complaints.

Doctored image

The video's thumbnail is a digitally altered image using unrelated photos.

The image that purports to show Anies wearing the KPK detainee orange vest had been doctored, combining two pictures.

The photo of Anies was originally from a report by local media Detikcom about pandemic restrictions in Jakarta in May 2020.

This photo had been digitally inserted onto the image of former social affairs minister Juliari Batubara, who was arrested by KPK in December 2020 for alleged graft in the use of Covid relief funds. Juliari's photo, published by local media Liputan6, was taken after he was interrogated by the KPK on December 6, 2020.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored thumbnail image (centre) and the genuine photos of Anies (left) and Juliari (right):

Screenshot comparison of the doctored thumbnail image (centre) and the genuine photos of Anies (left) and Juliari (right)

The other images in the thumbnail had also been taken from different news reports from Indonesian media.

The photo of Jakarta's acting governor Heru Budi Hartono was published in this report by Okezone.com about his visit in North Jakarta to inspect water reservoir pumps in October 2022.

The thumbnail also shows Indonesia's public works and housing minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, whose photo was published by Liputan6.com during an inspection of road projects in the resort island of Bali in October 2018.

The image of a man wearing a beige and white KPK vest appeared in a 2020 report by Aktual Borneo about the agency's investigation related to infrastructure projects in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province.

Below are screenshots comparing the photos in the doctored image (centre) and the original photos (top, bottom left and bottom right) with corresponding elements highlighted by AFP:

Screenshots comparing the photos in the doctored image (centre) and the original photos (top, bottom left and bottom right)

Unrelated clips

AFP reviewed the misleading video and found none of the clips support the claim that Anies had been named an official suspect in corruption charges.

The clip from the seven-second mark shows Anies speaking in front of journalists when he was questioned as a witness by KPK in September 2021 about alleged corruption in the purchase of a land in Munjul in East Jakarta.

At the 14-second mark, the video shows a clip uploaded to YouTube in January 2023, where a YouTuber discusses alleged corruption in the distribution of Covid aid in Jakarta. He does not say Anies has been named a corruption suspect.

The clip from the 22-second mark shows Anies giving a speech in a meeting held by former members of the Indonesian Islamic Students Association in the Indonesian city of Palu in November 2022.

Other clips include Anies visiting Bandung in January 2023, a video showing rotten rice in a warehouse in Jakarta, and footage taken when a KPK official updated journalists about the Formula ePrix graft investigation in October 2022.

AFP has repeatedly debunked false claims about Anies, such as here, here and here.