موقع إخباري يهتم بفضائح و انتهاكات دولة الامارات

UAE Leads in Sponsored Deception… New Scandal Unveils Hidden Truths

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A recently filed lawsuit in the United States of America has renewed the spotlight on paid disinformation funded by the UAE for defamation and incitement.

A lawsuit was filed by a political science professor against George Washington University in the United States, alleging its involvement in a disinformation effort. The campaign falsely linked academics to the Muslim Brotherhood, with Abu Dhabi prominently mentioned as a financier of the university’s disinformation activities.

Farid Hafez, an Austrian university professor, initiated legal proceedings against George Washington University and Lorenzo Vidino, an Italian researcher noted for his anti-Islamic stance and strong connections to the UAE. Vidino, who heads the university’s extremism program, is targeted in the lawsuit which aims for $10 million in compensation.

This is the second case to reach American courts in this regard this year and highlights what researchers call the lucrative “paid disinformation” industry.

Paid disinformation involves spreading false information for influence, on behalf of wealthy clients who pay huge sums of money in exchange for attacking their opponents through “academic studies.”

Foreign governments, led by the UAE, have long been accused of buying their influence through donations to American universities or other research institutions. But Hafez went further, accusing an ancient university of harming the reputation of some people on behalf of a state.

The lawsuit, filed in a Washington court, claims that George Washington University and Vidino collaborated in a clandestine plot to deceive authorities, academia, and the media by presenting themselves as unbiased entities within academia.

The lawsuit also accuses Alp Services, a private company based in Geneva, of paying money on behalf of the UAE to journalists and academics, including Vidino, to distort the image of Abu Dhabi’s critics.

Vidino is accused of exploiting his position at the university to target academics such as Hafez as well as companies and organizations by publishing false reports linking them to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The lawsuit stated, “Vedino was a hired person who sold unverified rumors under the guise of academic objectivity and knowledge to destroy people and institutions.”

Hafez, a professor of political science at Williams College in Massachusetts, was arrested in 2020 as part of a campaign against Muslim people and companies in Austria.

However, no charges were brought against any of those arrested, and the judiciary declared in 2021 that the operation was illegal. Hafez believed that he was arrested because of a report submitted by Vidino.

A contractual agreement shows that Vidino received money in exchange for providing “suggestions” to Alp, which it used as part of a disinformation operation on behalf of Abu Dhabi.

According to statements attributed to David Schwarz, attorney for Hafez, as reported by Agence France-Presse, “The actions taken against my client by George Washington University, Vidino, and Alp have led to the devastation of his life.”

He added that his client is demanding $10 million in compensation.

“Regardless of whether the university and its program were unaware of covert actions, the authority of the position may have lent legitimacy to the dissemination of false information,” remarked Christian Coates Ulrichsen, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs affiliated with the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston.

Similar incidents have previously impacted Abu Dhabi. In January, Hazem Nada, an Italian-American national, alleged that Abu Dhabi disseminated deceptive information via Alp Services, leading to the bankruptcy of his raw materials trading firm, Lord Energy.

Previously, a research report issued by the Democracy Center for Transparency (DCT) shed light on the role of Mario Brero, the head of Swiss intelligence agency Alp Services and a key figure in UAE-sponsored defamation and incitement campaigns. The study revealed Pereiro’s involvement in a long-standing UAE-funded effort to discredit politicians, opinion leaders, and human rights activists across various parts of Europe.

It pointed out that the UAE is a world leader in campaigns of incitement and defamation of its opponents, and in parallel, it promotes itself as a country that tolerates and respects rights.

According to the study, “This leads to the production of highly deceptive information, stirring resentment among purveyors of falsehoods. Abu Dhabi was quick to recognize this and enlisted the services of a Swiss intelligence agency, led by Mario Pereiro, a seasoned businessman born in 1946.”