Mainstream Can’t Tell What’s Fake

It’s not just the mainstream media that is spreading around fake news. One particular bogus story about the death of a prominent NATO employee has been passed around by the alternative media, as well. AFP has investigated these serious claims and found them to be unfounded. Bottom line: It’s up to everyone to not mislead people.

By Dave Gahary

The recent death of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) employee and the “news” reports that followed provide a clear example of the dangers of believing everything you read, even in the alternative media. The mainstream—or elite—media has recently been thoroughly disgraced, and the alternative media—although much more trustworthy than the former—runs the risk of alienating readers by pushing “fake news.”

The Belgian newspaper Sudpresse reported on Dec. 21 that Yves Chandelon, “a NATO senior official” was found with a bullet in his head. His family, reported the paper on its website, www.sudinfo.be, “does not believe it was a suicide.”

On Christmas Eve, this reporter was introduced to this story by a colleague via email, the “facts” of which could not be verified by independent “real” news sources. The article sent, from an Armenian news website, claimed that “NATO Auditor General Yves Chandelon dealt with counteraction against terrorism financing issues. Shortly before death he reported he was receiving strange calls.”

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No less than a dozen alternative websites were parroting the claim that Chandelon was NATO’s chief auditor in charge of terrorism funding, with headlines like “NATO Chief Auditor in Charge of Terrorism Funding Murdered in Belgium.” The source of the claim that Chandelon worked on terrorism issues seemed to come from the Daily Express, a UK tabloid newspaper with a circulation of about 400,000.

The article on the Express, with the headline “Mystery as NATO auditor general is found shot dead in suspicious circumstances,” also included a 40-second audio clip with an unknown actor who claimed that “the second most important responsibility he had was dealing with the finances of terrorism.”

On Dec. 27, this reporter emailed NATO asking for verification of the claims made in the articles on Mr. Chandelon’s death. A second request was made the next day after receiving no reply, and on Dec. 29 a reply was finally received.

Dear Sir,

In response to your query about Mr. Chandelon’s passing, please see below, attributable to “a NATO official” as needed. We express our deepest condolences to the family of Yves Chandelon, the Auditor General of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency.

We refer you to the Belgian authorities for details concerning the investigation and its outcome. As Auditor General for the NSPA, Mr. Chandelon’s responsibilities did not include any activity associated with counterterrorism or combating money laundering, as incorrectly reported by some media outlets.

Kind regards,

Damien Arnaud
Head, Media Operations
NATO Press & Media Section

NATO, headquartered in Belgium, is a military alliance whose 28 members agree to mutual defense if attacked by a non-member. NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) is the main logistics and procurement agency of the alliance, whose mission “is to provide responsive, effective and cost-efficient acquisition, including armaments procurement; logistics; operational and systems support and services.”

At the suggestion of the aforementioned colleague, on Jan. 5, this reporter followed up with another email to Arnaud, asking for more information on Chandelon, such as his duties for NATO, his portfolio, and recently assigned tasks, including a biography. Getting no reply, a followup email was sent and a reply received the next day.

Sir, yes, and as I am on leave, I had forwarded your query to colleagues in the office. Let me do so again, and no doubt someone will be in touch. I’m not sure we have more to offer, but you’ll be informed either way.

Regards,

Damien
Head, Media Operations
NATO Press & Media Section

Less than an hour later an email was received by this reporter.

Classification: NATO UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Dave,

Please find below the required response attributable to NATO official:

Mr. Chandelon was not the Auditor General for NATO. He was the Auditor General for the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, which is a customer-funded agency, operating on a “no profit no loss” basis. NSPA is a logistics and procurement agency, organized into three business segments: the NATO Airlift Management Program, the Central Europe Pipeline System Program, and Logistics Operations. Mr. Chandelon was not a member of the International Board of Auditors for NATO, which is the independent, external audit body of NATO.

Kind regards,

Barbora Maronkova
Acting Head of Press and Media Section
Public Diplomacy Division, NATO HQ

Ms. Maronkova suggested receiving further details from the NSPA spokesperson, who this reporter emailed twice, asking if it would be possible “to get whatever’s available on Mr. Chandelon, e.g., biography, time at NSPA, etc.”



 

Two days later, a reply was received from Karen Tissot Van Patot, a public affairs officer for the NSPA, who stated her office had no bio for Chandelon. On Jan. 9, this reporter emailed Ms. Tissot Van Patot asking if there would be anything else she could provide, such as his job description, and the next day, after leaving a phone message, a reply was received.

Classification: NATO UNCLASSIFIED

Mr. Gahary,

Apologies for my delay in responding to your query—I was out of the office much of yesterday. Please see the response below to your query. Mr. Chandelon served as the Auditor General for the NATO Support and Procurement Agency and worked at the Agency since 1988. Mr. Chandelon’s duties were based on an audit plan and involved reviews of administrative, technical, financial, and internal control processes. Mr. Chandelon coordinated the work of a small team and provided guidelines to be followed in administrative and financial audits, logistics audits and stock management audits. He also prepared audit reports. Mr. Chandelon’s responsibilities did not include any activity associated with counter-terrorism/ money laundering, as incorrectly reported by media outlets.

Significantly, six days after the first report of Chandelon’s death, the Brussels-based edition of the Washington, D.C. daily Politico reported: Local media reported that Chandelon’s family initially dismissed investigators’ view the death was a suicide, believing it was suspicious. The prosecutor’s office said some members of the family subsequently changed their minds when investigators found a one-page, handwritten note in the car that went into details about investments that had “gone wrong.”

Dave Gahary is a former submariner in the U.S. Navy.

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One Response to Mainstream Can’t Tell What’s Fake

  1. Troy Ounce says:

    Thanks for the effort to go after the real story.

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