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Fact check: Video shows Barack Obama visiting prison at Robben Island in South Africa

Adrienne Dunn, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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The claim: Former President Barack Obama arrested

In the tumultuous time following the U.S. presidential election, misinformation and conspiracy theories thrived on social media, entangling prominent politicians in outlandish claims.

In a Jan. 17 video posted to Facebook, the host of the conservative "America Divided Podcast" shared a video of former President Barack Obama in a jail cell, saying he was "getting to know the place."

Noting that thousands of National Guard troops had been deployed to D.C. following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, host Gage Nelson said, "The rumor on the street is that, on Jan. 20, many people are going to jail ... and well, now there's video of Barack Obama in a jail cell, which kind of blows my mind."

While Nelson acknowledges in the video that Obama hasn't actually been arrested, the title and caption of the post fail to clearly do so.

"BARACK OBAMA ARRESTED... 75 days after election day in America and, a NEW video surfaced of former President Barack Obama in a JAIL CELL leaving many to question... Was OBAMA ARRESTED?...," the caption reads.

The "America Divided Podcast" page responded to a request for comment with a statement from Nelson, mentioning that the page had received backlash for click-baiting viewers.

"The point of that video was to dispute the claims that Obama had been detained," the statement reads. "Our goal was only to reach as many people as possible so that they didn't fall for the FAKE rumors. America Divided isn't monetized in any way meaning we didn't earn a dime from that video."

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Obama visited prison on Robben Island

The video of Obama in the jail cell is from 2013, when the Obamas took a trip to Robben Island, in South Africa, which is known for holding future South African President Nelson Mandela prisoner for 18 years.

The Guardian posted the clip of Obama in Mandela's cell to its YouTube channel in 2013.

Nelson acknowledges this in the "America Divided" video, saying, "However, unfortunately, as much as I would love to say this video is 100% real ... Barack Obama has not been arrested, however, he very well could be."

Fact check: Fake story claims former President Barack Obama was arrested for espionage

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Our rating: False

The claim in the post is FALSE. While Nelson acknowledges that his primary claim of Obama being arrested isn't actually true a few minutes into the video, the caption and title of the post remain inaccurate and misleading. The clip of Obama in a jail cell is from a 2013 trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was a prisoner for 18 years.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Barack Obama's Robben Island visit misrepresented in video