Belarus spy agency producing Kurdish-language fake news about migrant crisis: Meta

Facebook changed its company name to Meta in late October. (Photo: AFP)
Facebook changed its company name to Meta in late October. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, said on Wednesday, in what it called an Adversarial Threat Report, that it has evidence proving that Belarusian secret services used fraudulent social media accounts to post criticism of Poland in Kurdish and two other languages.

“These fictitious personas posted criticism of Poland in English, Polish, and Kurdish, including pictures and videos about Polish border guards allegedly violating migrants’ rights, and compared Poland’s treatment of migrants against other countries,” read the report.

The company explained, “They also posted to Groups focused on the welfare of migrants in Europe. A few accounts posted in Russian about relations between Belarus and the Baltic States,” and, “as a result, Meta removed 41 Facebook accounts, five Groups, and four Instagram accounts “for violating our policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

On Thursday, 430 Iraqi nationals, most of them Kurdish, returned to their home country after being stuck among thousands of others for weeks in freezing weather on the border of Belarus while attempting to immigrate to European Union member states. 

The European Union has accused Belarus of intentionally causing the crisis, backed by Russia.

Read More: All roads lead to Belarus on Iraq ‘package deals’

“This activity originated in Belarus and primarily targeted audiences in the Middle East and Europe,” the report continued, “Some of the accounts used profile photos likely generated using artificial intelligence techniques like generative adversarial networks (GAN).”

“Although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to the Belarusian KGB.”

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has also blamed criminal networks of human smugglers for “playing with the people’s lives.”

In a phone call with Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his appreciation for the KRG’s efforts in combating such criminal smugglers.

Read More: France 'appreciates' KRG efforts in combating human smuggling networks 

The migrants, nearly all of them from either Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, or Syria, ended up trapped in harrowing and dangerous scenes that played out before the world press on Belarus’ frontiers.

Read More: Over 400 stranded migrants will arrive in Erbil on Thursday

Since Nov. 18, Iraqi Airways has flown back 2,302 migrants, most of whom are residents of the Kurdistan Region.