An earlier report by the New York Times claiming that an Iranian driving a truck with Iranian license plates was held by border agents in Iraq after fraudulent voter ballots were discovered is now being denied, by the Iraqi border agents themselves.
Various media outlets followed the NYT and reported the story like this:
CNN – With the country’s parliamentary elections slated for Thursday and early voting already under way, a truck carrying what are believed to be fake ballots was detained in the Iraqi border province of Wasit, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
U.S. investigators were being sent to examine the ballots in Wasit, located on the Iranian border southeast of Baghdad.
The truck’s driver was Iranian, as was the truck’s license plate, said an Iraqi Interior Ministry source. Authorities are investigating reports that other vehicles with possible fake ballots have been trying to cross the border into Iraq.
Then, Reuters sent this story out:
The head of Iraq’s border guards denied police reports on Wednesday that a tanker truck stuffed with thousands of forged ballot papers had been seized crossing into Iraq from Iran before Thursday’s elections.
“This is all a lie,” said Lieutenant General Ahmed al-Khafaji, the chief of the U.S.-trained force which has responsibility for all Iraq’s borders.
“I heard this yesterday and I checked all the border crossings right away. The borders are all closed anyway,” he told Reuters.
Iraq’s frontiers are closed for the period of the election.
“I contacted all the border crossing points and there was no report of any such incident,” Khafaji said.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabor also denied the reports, which the New York Times ran prominently, quoting a single unnamed Interior Ministry source, and said it was an attempt to discredit the election process.
So, New York Times – what’s the deal?
Did an overzealous reporter write a story based on a rumor and present it as fact in the hopes that the election process could be discredited?