Fact-Check : The credentials of Gotabaya are false! Citizenship is not renounced – US Department of Justice

False Political

A post with an image claimed to be from US Justice department went viral within few hours of posting as it mentioned that all the documents SLPP Presidential Candidate , Gotabaya Rajapaksa has produced so far are fake. “ගෝඨා මෙතෙක් පෙන්වූ ගෝනි සෙල්ලම ඉවරයි..! ‌ගෝ්‍ඨාභය පෙන්වන සහතික බොරු..! පුරවැසිභාවය ඉවත්කිරීම අහවර නෑ..! ඇමරිකානු අධිකරණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව නිල වශයෙන් කියයි..! අදාල ලිපිය මෙන්නEXCLUSIVE” which translates to “The credentials of Gotabaya are false! Citizenship is not renounced – confirms US Department of Justice official”

Facebook LinkArchived Link

Number of Facebook users opined that the letter is fake and is a last resort in the mudslinging campaign of the opposition; hence, we decided to investigate the letter.

Fact Check  

When we inspected the document allegedly issued by the US Department of Justice, we found some nuances in the language used in this letter. Some questionable points are highlighted below:

  • Use of two different formats for writing date (November 11. 2019 and 11 November 2019)
  • Use of Gotabaya Rajapaksa (“RAJAPAKSA”) 
  • Use of “Law and Policy Section” at the top and “Office of Law and Policy” at the bottom

We noticed that in all the documents produced by SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding to US Citizenship his name has been spelt as Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We decided to inspect how a US government agency had mentioned Gotabaya Rajapaksa in legal matter by taking a look at the motions that had been filed and the arguments of the case “Ahimsa Wickrematunga Vs Gotabaya Rajapaksa”. We can see in the document given below, the name is mentioned as “Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa” in all the legal documents issued by US District Court for Central District of California

U.S. District Court for Central District of CaliforniaArchived Link

Furthermore, in order to verify the designated signatory party of this document we checked the profile of “Christopher Hardee” the person who appears to have signed the document and found that he is indeed working as the “Chief Counsel for Policy” at the National Security Division in US Justice Department as per his LinkedIn Profile

However we were doubtful as to “Chief-Policy” being mentioned under his name hence deicide to inspect how his designation is given in the Justice Department website and found out it as “Chief Counsel for Policy”

Justice Department WebArchived Link

Also, we had noticed that few Facebook users had commented that November 11th is a holiday in the United States. We contacted the US Embassy in Colombo and learnt that November 11th 2019 (Last Monday) was a holiday for the Embassy. We checked the Official website of US Government to verify whether November 11th is listed as a holiday and learnt that in 2019 Federal Holidays November 11th (Veterans’ Day) is listed as a holiday as shown below. US Government official Office of Personnel Management has also mentioned that November 11, 2019 as a holiday. Both are shown below

2019 Federal Holidays usa.govArchived link
2019 Federal Holidays opm.govArchived link

We checked the US Justice Department holidays and confirmed that November 11 was listed in the official website as a holiday as well.

Justice.gov webArchived Link

On inspecting the official Twitter account of US Justice Department, we observed that there were daily Tweets from the Justice Department and there were no tweets between 9th November to 12th November . Missing tweets on these two days is due to holidays on 10th November and 11th November owing to Sunday and Veteran’s day respectively.

Justice Department Twitter

We tried to locate letters issued by official US Department of Justice and noticed that usually the date format used in these letters were as such “[Month] [Date in Number], [Year in Number] 

Letter 1
Letter 2

With SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s US citizenship renunciation becoming a hot topic during past few days U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Ms. Nancy VanHorn had clarified few days back that citizenship renunciation is quite a length process. She had stated that names of the US Department of State renounced citizens to appear in the Internal Revenue Service (Tax Agency) would sometimes take months. 

Also we were able to find the signature, which had been used in the letter in a website called milkyclouds.com, a place to improve sewing skills for moms

Web Link | Archived Link

Conclusion: (අවසාන නිගමනය)

The document used in the viral posts are possibly false as the date of issuance, mentioned in the letter, is celebrated as Veteran’s day in US and it is a national holiday. 

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Title:Fact-Check: The credentials of Gotabaya are false! Citizenship is not renounced – US Department of Justice

Fact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe 

Result: False

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