On March 30, 2023, as anti-government protests called by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga entered the third day, a screenshot of a press release purportedly from the US Department of Treasury was shared online claiming the country’s deputy president Rigathi Gachagua and three other politicians from the ruling party had been sanctioned for “sponsoring violence”.
“CHOICES have CONSEQUENCES” We do this again today PATRIOTS! #MaandamanoThursdays (sic),” opposition lawmaker, Junet Mohamed tweeted.
The screenshot mimics the format of statements on the US Department of Treasury website but omits social media contact details, which usually appear below the headlines of press releases and above the date.
However, the press statement purported to reveal new sanctions against four Kenyan politicians is fabricated.
A search on the US Treasury website revealed no such document and spokeswoman Morgan Finkelstein dismissed the claim as false.
“This is not true. That’s not a Treasury release,” Finkelstein told AFP fact Check.
At the same time, a search of Kenyans appearing on the US sanctions list (archived here) revealed nine individuals but none of them include the four politicians mentioned in the claims – Gachagua, Trade Minister Moses Kuria and lawmakers Kimani Ichung’wa and Ndindi Nyoro.
The political heat in Kenya is at an all-time high amid anti-government demos led by Odinga who has accused President William Ruto of stealing last year’s election and of failing to control the surging cost of living.