Who’s ‘dumb’? Reuters got lost in Russian embassy tweet on new Novichok claims

Who’s ‘dumb’? Reuters got lost in Russian embassy tweet on new Novichok claims
Reuters has been caught spreading fake news after falsely reporting that the Russian embassy in the Netherlands said that Britain was “dumb” to drum up another Novichok story during the World Cup.

In a rush to break the latest development in the new Novichok saga, it appears that Reuters has jumbled the facts in a tweet.

“Russian embassy in Netherlands says Britain ‘dumb’ to use Novichok story again in the middle of soccer World Cup – Twitter,” read a Reuters news alert. 

However, the relevant tweet says nothing of the kind, instead observing that the UK must think Moscow to be “dumb” if it truly believes that Russia targeted British citizens with a nerve agent during the highly praised football tournament.

The New York Times jumped on the Reuters report, republishing it with the flashy headline: “Britain 'Dumb' if It Thinks Russia Would Stage Nerve Attack During World Cup: Russian Diplomats.”

The story opens: “Britain is foolish if it believes Russia staged a new nerve agent attack in England in the middle of the soccer World Cup, Russia's embassy to the Netherlands wrote on social media on Thursday.” Not quite.

Two British citizens Charles Rowley, 45 and his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, 44, were hospitalized on Saturday after suspected contact with “an unknown substance” that was later declared by UK officials to be Novichok. British officials have suggested that the couple may have been poisoned by leftovers from the previous alleged nerve agent attack in March. The fact that a highly lethal military-grade nerve agent again failed to kill those who came in contact with it has raised questions about whether Novichok actually was involved. Alternative theories point to a potential drug overdose as Rowley is a registered heroin addict, according to the Telegraph.

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