CNN among foreign news outlets to fall for fake government website proclaiming passing of Lee Kuan Yew

CNN Lee Kuan Yew death tweetInternational 24-hour broadcaster CNN was among a number of news outlets to report the death of one of Asia’s most iconic political figureheads of the last century, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, based on an announcement made by a fake government website.

CNN Breaking News tweeted earlier today: “Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father and first prime minister, dies at 91, government website says.” But the website, which carried the logo of the Prime Minister’s Office, turned out to be bogus.

CNN’s announcement was retweeted 1,295 times. The American TV station later tweeted that the report “may not be official.”

The PMO has filed a police report about the fake website.

According to Singapore’s most-read national newspaper The Straits Times, no new information has been given since an update on Wednesday afternoon from the PMO to say that Lee’s health had deteriorated.

The PMO wrote: “Mr Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill in the ICU and has deteriorated further.”

“Screenshots of the website started circulating on Wednesday night, leading some foreign media outlets to carry reports of Mr Lee’s death, only to retract them later, the ST reported at 10pm tonight, Singapore time.

Chinese media outlets Phoenix Chinese News, Sina and leading TV network CCTV also fell for the fake site, and have subsequently apologised.

Temasek Review Facebook post

Temasek Review Facebook post

Crowds had gathered at the hospital where the former prime minister suffering from severe pneumonia earlier today. Independent news site the Temasek Review posted an image of the crowds and Facebook, captioned: “Reporters all on standby at SGH [Singapore General Hospital], announcement of the death of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew imminent.”

The former PM’s death has been misreported before. Rumours swirled in 2012, as Singapore’s celebrated its 47th birthday, that Lee was already dead and the mainstream media papers had been instructed to hold back the news until after Singapore’s birthday celebrations.


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