Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who had left the country amidst ongoing political and economic chaos, has now officially resigned as the president of Sri Lanka. He first travelled to Maldives in the early hours of 13th July and then boarded a flight to Singapore, which incidentally was reported as the most tracked flight on 14th July.
As many were curious about Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s whereabouts, we noticed an image of him, seated inside a flight to be viral among social media users, claiming to be recent scenes. However, our investigation found this to be an old image!
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An image was viral on 14th evening in Sri Lanka, claiming to be a capture inside the Saudi Arabia flight, which the outgoing president had taken, to arrive in Singapore.
“Sri Lankan President in exile G rajapaksha seen in the flight to Singapore from Maldives.”
Post with the same image were viral on Facebook too
Interestingly, MP Udaya Gammanpila, a former minister and a key figure of the SLPP, who later on was one of the first to become an independent MP few months ago, was also seen in the flight. Therefore many had assumed this image to be an old image.
Hence, we decided to investigate this viral image and find its origins.
First, we did a Google Reverse Image Search and the search results led us to the original image from December 2016. The image was in fact published in the official page of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The photo along with a snap of Mount Fuji in Japan was published with the caption “On way to #Nagoya with breathtaking view of Mount Fuji. Look forward to meeting the Sri Lankan community in the evening – GR” on 16th December 2016 as seen below.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa had met some of the Japanese officials as well during this tour along with Udaya Gammanpila and Rohitha Abeygunawardena. Both of them can be seen seated behind Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the viral in-flight image as well.
Hence, its clear that the viral image was not a recent photo and one which was taken even before Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the 7th Executive President of Sri Lanka, back in November 2019.
Earlier, the outgoing president Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore at Changi Airport on July 14 evening and had emailed the resignation letter to the Speaker. The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Singapore police stated that Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived at Singapore on a social visit pass and did not ask for asylum as reported here | Archived
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The viral image claiming to be Gotabaya Rajapaksa inside the flight to Singapore is misleading. The image is from December 2016 during Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to Japan
Title:Image of Gotabaya Rajapaksa inside the flight – Maldives to Singapore? Find out the Truth…Fact Check By: Kalana Krishantha