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Fact check: Fabricated CNN report of Brittney Griner DNA test

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/16/2022 Kate S. Petersen, USA TODAY
White House still working to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home
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The claim: Image shows CNN reporting that Russia ordered DNA test to determine male or female prison for Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner is escorted to a court room prior to a hearing on Aug. 2. © Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP Brittney Griner is escorted to a court room prior to a hearing on Aug. 2.

American WNBA athlete Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony after bringing two vape cartridges containing hashish oil into the country. Griner said that she accidentally packed the cartridges into her luggage.

After a February arrest in a Moscow airport, she was held for months before being sentenced on Aug. 4.

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Some social media users are sharing an image that purportedly shows CNN reporting on Griner's treatment in Russian custody.

The image shows a CNN logo in the lower right-hand corner. On the right, Griner is pictured near what appears to be the metal bars of a holding cell. CNN news anchor Lynda Kinkade is pictured on the left, apparently mid-sentence.

A chyron extending across the bottom of both images reads: "DNA test ordered by officials to determine male or female prison."

An August 6 Facebook post featuring the image was shared nearly 200 times in five days. 

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However, the purported CNN report is fabricated, according to a CNN spokesperson.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the claim for comment.

CNN report fabricated, template used for other false claims

The report shown in the social media image is not authentic, according to CNN spokesperson Sydney Baldwin.

"This is a fabricated image and did not ever air on CNN," she told USA TODAY in an email.

USA TODAY did not find any evidence of the report on CNN's website

The template featuring Kinkade and the CNN logo has previously been used to create other fabricated content. The website Know Your Meme lists several examples, including a parody news report linking a malevolent video game character to Russia. 

Griner's legal team is appealing her conviction. The U.S. and Russia are also reportedly in talks about a potential prisoner exchange to free Griner and another American imprisoned in Russia. 

Prior to her conviction and sentencing, Griner was held in a women's detention facility outside of Moscow, according to The New York Times.

Fact check: Altered image falsely attributes erroneous monkeypox claims to BBC, WHO and CDC

The fabricated report about Griner was debunked by other independent fact-checking organizations. 

Our rating: Altered

Based on our research, we rate ALTERED an image purportedly showing a CNN report that Russia ordered a DNA test to determine whether Griner should go to a male or female prison. The supposed CNN report is fabricated, according to a CNN spokesperson. The template used to create the image of the report has been used previously for fabricated content. 

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Fabricated CNN report of Brittney Griner DNA test

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