4 December 2023
Fact checkMisleading

Misleading: Photo shows a jail cell in Missouri, not where ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan was held

Photos and videos of the same jail cell, taken by visitors who joined the guided tour at the decommissioned Missouri State Penitentiary, can be found on the internet.

A post on X (formerly Twitter) claimed a photo of a dingy and dark cell shows where former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was incarcerated after he was convicted of corruption in August.

The tweet described the confined space as a “zameen tang” (in Urdu, زمین تنگ , which literally translates to “tight land”).

The same photo was also shared by an Urdu-speaking X user with the same claim. These posts have almost 7,500 likes and nearly 5,000 retweets as of this writing.

However, this claim is misleading. The photo does not show Khan’s cell, or any Pakistani jail cell for that matter. It is a decommissioned prison cell in Missouri in the United States.

Through image search, we found the same photo on Quora, a website that crowdsources answers to various user-generated questions. It was posted by a person named Vernie Seidel two years ago.

Annie Lab contacted Seidel, who also shared a YouTube video of the cell in the Missouri State Penitentiary.

The video titled “The MOST HAUNTED PRISON In America: Missouri STATE Penitentiary (SCARY Paranormal Activity)” shows the exact same cell as the one being circulated to be Khan’s.

Screencap of our conversation with Vernie Seidel

We also learned that the local authorities have offered guided tours of the Missouri State Penitentiary since its decommission in 2004.

A travel blogger posted a photo of the same cell.

A visual comparison of the misleading X post, the YouTube video, as well as the photo from the travel blog

An examination of the photos posted by the Missouri State Penitentiary on its Instagram reveals that the design of the floor of the facility matches as well.

A visual comparison of the misleading X post and the prison cell shared on the MSP’s Instagram Page

Khan was initially sent to Attock Jail in the Punjab province after being sentenced to three years in prison but was later transferred to the Adiala Jail after a petition by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

PTI members reportedly said his life was “under threat” in the Attock Jail, with his lawyer claiming that he was being kept in “solitary confinement in a tiny cell.”

Khan, who remains one of the most popular leaders in Pakistani politics, was put behind bars in early August this year for his involvement in corruption during his tenure as the country’s prime minister.

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