Viral Image of Julian Assange Mistreated in Jail Actually Created by AI

Photo: The Errant Friend, X

Original article (in Albanian) was published on 5/3/2024; Author: Pustina Patris

Claim: This image depicts Julian Assange being assaulted in jail, yet it has gone largely unmentioned.

Verdict: AI-generated photo

An image that appears to show Julian Assange injured has been circulating on Albanian-speaking social media platforms since February 2024. Users on these platforms have drawn comparisons between the alleged assault on Assange, supposedly evidenced by the photo, and the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, aiming to highlight the perceived hypocrisy in Western reactions to each incident.

March 2 at 8:23 AM •© Julian Assange was assaulted in jail, and now his life is in danger because he was on the brink of exposing the truth. If we apply the truth standard of the West, it becomes absurd. If Putin killed Navalny (a Nazi), then Assange was attacked by the hand of the West; or is Putin involved here too? Why would Putin need to discredit himself while Navalny was in jail? Why do Western media, often rightfully compared to intellectual prostitutes, remain silent about the destruction of Julian Assange’s life, while they raise their voices for Navalny? Why the same slow death scenario in jail? Or are the CIA and British MI6 depicted as angels? In fact, it is known that these two intelligence agencies are the masterminds behind state coups and bloodshed across the globe.

Despite the caption on the image claiming it is from February 2024, a reverse image search on TinEye reveals that the image has been circulating online since at least April 2023.

However, there is good news for Assange supporters: the image is not of him. It was created by an individual using the pseudonym “The Errant Friend” on Twitter, who posted the images on their account on March 30, 2023.

“The Errant Friend” confirmed to the German newspaper Bild that he generated the images using the artificial intelligence (AI) program Midjourney. He even included his ‘signature’ on the images in the form of a text overlay, stating “Photo Property of E.” The creator identified himself as a supporter of Assange.

Assange’s partner Stella also confirmed to Bild that the image was generated using AI technology. 

Stella Assange, Assange’s spouse, also confirmed to Bild that the image was generated using AI technology.

Similarly, the “Don’t Extradite Assange” committee conveyed to AFP on April 4, 2023, that the image was created with AI.

Regarding the position of the West on Assange’s case, on March 1, 2024, Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, urged British authorities not to extradite Julian Assange for trial in the US. She further advised the US government to cease its prosecution of Assange. Khan argued that prosecuting Assange would set a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech and expression. Additionally, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has expressed opposition to Assange’s extradition.