On January 23, Sarah Jessica Fields, president and director of advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition, a conservative lobbying group, claimed on X that a man who was filmed after apparently illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico was Movsum Samadov, head of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan.
In the video clip, the man tells the person filming him: “You’re not smart enough to know who I am. But soon you’re gonna know who I am. Everyone will.”
Posts of the video, along with the claim that Samadov was the man featured in it, spread across social media and received millions of views on X.
Fields wrote in her post on X:
“Now we know who this illegal immigrant is. Movsum Samadov, also know [sic] as Movsum Mardan oglu Samadov. He is the chairman of the Islamic Terrorists group Azerbaijani Islamic party. He was sentenced to 12 years after being convicted of trying to overthrow the government. … He was convicted October 7th, 2011. He was released January 19th, 2023.”
That is false. The man in the video is not Movsum Samadov.
Movsum Samadov, chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, was arrested in 2011 on charges of preparing a terrorist attack and attempting a coup. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and released in January 2023.
On January 24, a day after the video became viral across social media along with the claim that Samadov was the man featured in it, the Azeri-language service of VOA sister organization Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) found the real Samadov in Azerbaijan and interviewed him.
In the interview, Samadov not only denied he was the man seen in the video clip but said he had not left Azerbaijan after his release from prison in January 2023 because the authorities had banned him from leaving the country.
“First of all, that person doesn't look like me,” Samadov told RFE/RL, referring to the man shown in the video clip. “When you compare, you will see that outwardly there is very little similarity, except for the glasses. Another important issue is that I am banned from leaving the country. Since I cannot leave the country, it is impossible for me to go there.”
RFE/RL also included a recent photo of Samadov in the article, which shows a much older man than the man shown in the U.S.-Mexico border video.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), profiled Samadov as being "imprisoned for criticizing religious freedom conditions and for his political activity." He was arrested after criticizing Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s ban on female students wearing hijab in public schools, the profile said.
The video allegedly showing Samadov on the U.S.-Mexico border was produced by 1st Responders Media, which appears to be a group of people who travel along the southern border of the United States filming foreigners who have crossed illegally.
On January 24, X user Rayne' wrote that the man detained at the border was not Samadov. Her post was viewed only 8,000 times.
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