Social media platforms particularly Facebook recently surfaced with a claim that the phone call conversation between Mihret Wedajo and a Fano member released by the Ethiopian government to prove that Girma Yeshitla was assassinated by Fano militias was examined and debunked by an American organization called ‘Digi Forensic Experts’ as an AI constructed audio.
Girma Yeshitla, the head of the Amhara Prosperity Party, a branch of the Ethiopian Prosperity Party and a ruling party in the Amhara regional state, was killed on Apr 27, 2023, in the Semen Shewa zone of the region.
The federal government accused ‘extremist forces’ of assassinating Girma Yeshitla. It said that these ‘extremist forces claimed to be fighting for the Ahmara people and in reality were trying to capture state power using force’.
The Amhara regional government blamed the Fano armed group, a group of armed militias in eastern parts of the Amhara regional state for the killing of Girma Yeshitila.
The militia group that was accused of murdering the senior party official is led by a person named Mihret Wedajo.
On Apr 29, 2023, state-affiliated media outlets such as the Addis Media Network came up with audio that claimed to be a phone call conversation between the militia group’s leader Mihret Wedajo, and Belete Shegaw, a member of the militant group.
The government released the audio as evidence that Girma Yeshitla was killed by the Fano militia group.
The audio recording allegedly indicating Mihret Wedajo and another militant confirming they killed Girma Yeshitla had infested the Ethiopian social media landscape.
Days later, on May 7, 2023, a claim circulated across social media platforms that the audio released by the government as a conversation between Mihret Wedajo and Belete Shegaw was proven fabricated and fake.
The social media posts claimed that the audio was examined by an American technology company named Digi Forensic Experts and confirmed as the audio was generated using artificial intelligence.
The social media posts include screenshot papers allegedly taken from the forensic examiner organization. The claimed article was also published on a blog.
HaqCheck endeavored to cross-check the claim.
Is the organization ‘Digi Forensic Experts’ real?
HaqCheck couldn’t find any organizational entity on the Internet registered as ‘Digi Forensic Experts’.
But, there is a company called Digital Forensic Experts. The website of the company claims that it investigates the authenticity of audio and video files.
However, the alleged investigation of the audio released by the Ethiopian government was not on the website of Digital Forensic Experts.
We have searched the social media accounts of the company if the alleged article was published there. But, there was no social media handle with the same name as the company.
HaqCheck looked into the alleged (Digi Forensic Experts) organization’s address on the screenshots. The call number given belongs to a company named Digital Forensic Experts and the postal code, street address, and suite address belong to Kaufmann Media Group, a film company based in California, USA. Digital Forensic Experts and Kaufmann Media Group were founded by the same person named Sam Kaufmann.
Additionally, HaqCheck looked into the screenshot document and the images there. The text and the images are blurred.
[Image taken from the alleged forensic investigation by ‘Digi Forensic Experts’.]
The blurriness of the images and the texts clues that there is a probability that the images and the texts could be altered.
HaqCheck also found similar images on other sites to those used in the alleged forensic examination article.
These images are very similar to the pictures in the screenshots. These pictures were obtained published in a blog along with an article about an audio music forensic analysis.
HaqCheck approached the film production company, Digital Forensic Experts via email to inquire about the case. However, they did not yet respond to our inquest until this article was published.