Assad’s office issues statement contesting pregnancy report

January 29, 2013

One day after a Lebanese newspaper sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad printed a story citing unnamed "visitors" to Assad's office as vaguely referencing that his wife had become pregnant -- a story we picked up at WorldViews -- his office has taken the unusual step of publicly contesting the story. Two posts on the official Facebook page of the Syrian president's office, one in English and the other in Arabic, say the report is based on "false allegations" that are "far from reality." Here's the English version:

|| Statement ||

The Washington Post Newspaper has published an analytical article entitled “Syria’s Bashar al-Assad says his wife is pregnant” by Max Fisher. The author based his analysis on false allegations that led him to wrong results which are far from reality.
The Presidential Media Office confirms that what was quoted, in the title and content of the article, as Assad’s words is utterly false. Therefore, we call on the Washington Post that claims credibility and professionalism to deny what was quoted as Assad’s words. We ask them to do so in order not to affect the American Public Opinion with misleading information.
The office, therefore, calls on the Arab and Western Media to adopt reliable sources of news, verify and audit the news of un-official media before releasing it in order to preserve credibility and professionalism.
The Office is also ready to cooperate with professional and un-biased Media to check and audit any information related to the Institution of the Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic .

|| The Presidential Media Office of the Syrian Arab Republic ||

The original report, in the Lebanese paper al-Akhbar, did not quote Assad directly, only citing anonymous sources who said that Assad had offhandedly referenced his wife as pregnant. That report was also picked up by the Guardian, the Telegraph, an NBC News blog, United Press International and others, as well as several Arabic outlets, although, like us, none had any further information or hard confirmation.  The presidential office's Facebook page, a frequent outlet for official news and press releases, does not frequently challenge media stories in this way.

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Olga Khazan · January 29, 2013