No, Obama was not arrested for espionage
According to online claims spurred by the Conservative Beaver, a two-month old website, former US president Barack Obama was arrested on November 28, 2020 on espionage charges. This is false; all the evidence used in the article was plagiarized from a Department of Justice news release about a former CIA officer arrested in August 2020 in Hawaii. No other news outlets reported on the arrest.
“Former President Barack Obama arrested for ESPIONAGE,” reads the headline of an article published on November 28 and shared 6,000 times.
According to the article, Obama conspired with a business partner to “communicate classified information” to Chinese intelligence officials.
However, the claim is false.
The article’s unnamed author only replaced the name of the charged spy, Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, 67, for that of Obama, and altered the description of Ma’s accomplice from “a relative” to “a business partner.”
The article was also edited to include more recent tweets as evidence, but at least one of them from Guardian journalist Natalia Antonova was published as a joke mocking the implausible theory, Antonova confirmed to AFP via Twitter.
Another tweet mentioned in the article is from a Twitter user who wrote on November 30 that Obama had been arrested, and denied his source was the Conservative Beaver, without providing further evidence.
As of December 1, the outlet had not responded to an AFP enquiry about the Obama article.