Identity Theft of #Zersenay Tadese, Eritrean Olympian

#LiesAboutEritrea: Recently, a fake twitter account claiming to be that of the Eritrean Olympian runner Zersenay Tadese tweeted that his relatives were being held for ransom in the Sinai. It was another lie. Here's the truth behind the story.

byRed Sea Fisher5,827 Views
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  1. On April 6, 2013, Zersenay Tadese, one of Eritrea's greatest athletes, took gold place in the IAAF Prague International Half Marathon. The win was celebrated by Eritreans around the world. Support for Zersenay doesn't come simply because he breaks records and wins gold medals but also because he's an Eritrean nationalist with a big heart. He regularly donates a good chunk of his race earnings to Eritreans who need it most. For instance, in 2009, he gave 300,000 Nakfa to the Martyrs Trust Fund to help support the families of Eritrean martyrs. Only a year before that he gave 160,000 Nakfa to HIV/AIDS victims (Read here for more: ). Needless to say, he's a celebrated hero among the 7.5 million Eritreans in Eritrea and the diaspora. Just to give you an idea of his level of support from his compatriots just consider watching this first video of his race in Udine, Italy in 2007. In the second video, watch how many Eritrean flags are present (and chasing him) as he runs during another race in Edinburgh, Scotland (fast-forward to 4:15). Overwhelmed by the support of his people, Zersenay told reporters, "It felt like the whole of Eritrea was running with me."
  2. Zersenay Tadese's race in Udine, Italy Oct 2007
  3. Eritrea - Zersenay and Eritreans in the UK,Scotland race
  4. Considering how much Zersenay means to Eritreans around the world, many of them found it quite odd that a certain subset of people who claim to be "Eritreans" had nothing positive to say about Zersenay's half marathon win in Prague. In no way am I suggesting that support for an athlete is proof of Eritreaness but it must be understood that this same set of people never have anything positive to say about Eritrea and blame all problems on the Eritrean government. These same people promote sanctions on Eritrea, ignore or downplay the Ethiopian occupation of Eritrea, and focus squarely on regime change. Their greatest focus during the year of 2013 has been the alleged human trafficking of Eritreans in the Sinai. Instead of pointing to their own failure to do more as citizens they claim the Eritrean government doesn't do enough to stop it. Every nation has its own Ahmad Chalabis and Benedict Arnolds.

    Anyway, in light of their silence on Zersenay's win and continued vilification campaign against Eritrea, I sent the following tweet:
  5. Then only a couple weeks later, a fake Zersenay account was created by these same people:
  6. Notice that they couldn't even spell his name correctly: "Zeresenay." The fake twitter account then goes on to tweet this first tweet:
  7. This is an image that is easily available online. In fact, it's the first image that pops up on Google images if you type in "Zersenay Tadese." You would think that they'd try just a little bit harder. Interestingly, one of the first twitter users to retweet this tweet is a guy named @BealfanT, a character who has unrelentingly blamed the Eritrean government for all of the nation's problems:
  8. Anyway, the fake Zersenay account proceeds to post more pictures that are easily found online. In some cases the pictures were doctored. Like this one: 
  9. Let's take a closer look at this picture. Compare it with another picture posted by HT Fashion Eritrea, which is found on the left. The doctored image posted by the fake account is found on the right. See here:
  10. This next image is one what was stolen from Reuters:
  11. Why not just post the Reuters article instead? See here:
  12. Despite these deceptions, the fake account proceeded to lie to Eritreans, capturing the attention of one website: