CLAIM: Photo shows former President Barack Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
THE FACTS: The image was manipulated to replace the former prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, with Rouhani. The original photo was taken in 2011. Arizona congressman Paul Gosar shared the manipulated image with Rouhani from his personal Twitter account on Jan. 6. “The world is a better place without these guys in power,” Gosar said in the tweet, which was shared more than 5,000 times.
Other Twitter users immediately highlighted the tweet as false. After being criticized for posting the false photo, Gosar tweeted: “No one said this wasn’t photoshopped. No one said the president of Iran was dead. No one said Obama met with Rouhani in person.”
The manipulated image has circulated on social media and blogs since at least 2013. Last week the manipulated image made rounds on Facebook with false claims, including that Obama gave billions of dollars to Iran.
The original photo shows a smiling Obama shaking hands with India’s prime minister in front of an Indian and two American flags. It was taken at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Bali. The Associated Press and Agence France Presse have nearly identical photos of Obama and Singh shaking hands that could have served as the basis for the manipulated image. Obama and Rouhani never met in person.
Tensions have escalated between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike that killed Iran’s top general Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. On Sunday, Iran announced it will no longer abide by the limits outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Associated Press reached out to Gosar for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
In November, the congressman made headlines for supporting Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy theories doubting that the wealthy sex offender committed suicide. Gosar posted 23 tweets, where the first letter of each tweet spelled out “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” A New York medical examiner ruled that Epstein’s death in jail was suicide. Since then conspiracy theories have flourished.