Sunday, December 4, 2022

Fact-check: Has the man probing the Nord Stream explosions died?

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One month after leaks were detected in the Nord Stream gas pipelines, false claims about the incident continue to spread online.

Social media users have claimed, without evidence, that the lead Swedish investigator into the incident has died.

Posts referring to the supposed death of “Erik Ollsen” have spread online in France, Germany, and Italy. 

Euronews has fact-checked the claims.

What’s the background?

On September 26, four huge gas leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines that were built to transport Russian gas across the Baltic Sea to Europe.

Swedish authorities said that “explosions” had been detected before the leaks, leading the West to suggest an act of sabotage, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has in turn accused the West of “international terrorism” amid heightened tensions and security concerns.

“Our intelligence services have evidence to suggest that the attack was directed and coordinated by British military specialists,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

False claims about the supposed death of Swedish lead investigator “Erik Ollsen” first appeared on Twitter in Dutch, and have since spread to Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram, with variations on the spelling of his name.

One Facebook post claimed that Ollsen had died from a “bee sting” and that he would be “cremated within hours”. Many users suggested that had died suspiciously before revealing the true cause of the damage to the pipelines.

But authorities in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden have all denied that any such investigator in the case is called “Erik Ollsen”.

According to Sweden’s Prosecution Authority, the head investigator into the Nord Stream leaks is called “Mats Ljungqvist”.

Both the authority and Stockholm police have told AFP that they are not aware of any suspicious death among the Nord Stream investigators.

“No prosecutor in charge of the [Nord Stream] case called Erik Olsson, died as a result of a bee sting,” a statement read.

Amid the online misinformation, Erik Olsen — a Norwegian expert in marine ecosystems — has also stated on Twitter that he is not involved in the Nord Stream probe and is “very much alive”.

Numisteamone

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