The Volokh Conspiracy

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"Canadian Admits Fabricating Terrorism Tale Detailed in New York Times Podcast"

"In exchange for the admission of the man, Shehroze Chaudhry, Canada dropped criminal charges against him."


From the New York Times (Ian Austen) last week:

The man, Shehroze Chaudhry, had spread fabricated stories of life as a terrorist in Syria on social media beginning in 2016, according to an agreed statement of facts between prosecutors and the defense. He then repeated them to several news outlets, including The New York Times, which then amplified his tales, the statement said.

Mr. Chaudhry, who is now 26, had come to regret giving interviews to the news media and "wanted to finish school and turn his life around," the statement said.

Prosecutors agreed to drop the charges because Mr. Chaudhry's tales "were mistakes borne out of immaturity — not sinister intent and certainly not criminal intent," his lawyer, Nader R. Hasan, wrote in an email….

After his arrest, The Times re-examined the [award-winning] 'Caliphate' series and found "a history of misrepresentations by Mr. Chaudhry and no corroboration that he committed the atrocities he described in the 'Caliphate' podcast." The podcast did not hold up, The Times said.

The re-examination of the series found that "Times journalists were too credulous about the verification steps that were undertaken and dismissive of the lack of corroboration of essential aspects of Mr. Chaudhry's account," said Danielle Rhoades Ha, the spokeswoman for The Times. "Since that time, we've introduced new practices to prevent similar lapses," she said.