Fact Check: Washington Post Did NOT Report Bill Gates Was 'Being Held' On Charges Of 'War Crimes Against Humanity'

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Washington Post Did NOT Report Bill Gates Was 'Being Held' On Charges Of 'War Crimes Against Humanity' Uncorroborated

Did The Washington Post report that Bill Gates was "being held under armed watch at Guantanamo Bay" after having been "charged with war crimes against humanity"? No, that's not true: A search through the newspaper's digital database returned no such results, and no credible news publication or official government statement describing such an event was publicly available as of July 17, 2023. A spokesperson for the Post confirmed to Lead Stories that the newspaper did not publish such a story. A reverse image search found that an image claiming to show the Microsoft founder restrained was a manipulated version of a screenshot taken from a 2017 video shared on YouTube claiming to depict "an aspect of the death penalty."

A version of the claim originated in a post shared on Twitter on July 11, 2022, (archived here) with a caption that read:

Bill Gates Arrested by US Federal Marshals; Being Held Under Armed Watch at Guantanamo Bay; Charged With War Crimes Against Humanity. Washington Post.

Below is how the post appeared at the time of this publication:

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 11.41.20 AM.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken Mon July 17 17:41:20 UTC 2023)

A search for "Bill Gates" through The Washington Post digital database returned no results confirming that Gates had been arrested or charged with war crimes against humanity.

A reverse image search (archived here) revealed that the above photo included in the post on Twitter was posted to the social networking site Tumblr as early as January 15, 2023. It appears to have been created by manipulating a screenshot taken from a video posted to YouTube on November 29, 2016. The video's "about" section described it thusly:

This video shows an aspect of death penalty that most of the people do not want to see!! Watch till the end and you will know why.

The image below on the left was captured at the 3:55-minute mark in the YouTube video (archived here). The image on the right was taken from the post shared on Twitter. A comparison of the two images shows where photographic manipulations occurred:

Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 11.58.18 AM.png

(Source: Lead Stories compilation taken Mon July 17 17:58:18 UTC 2023)

For example, it appears that the original image (left) was cropped, given a filter, and what appears to be a likeness of Gates was added.

Aside from those differences, the two images are identical, including the positioning of the restraints, the gestures of the patient hands, the way the shirt falls, and the placement of the guard's boot in the upper right corner.

No credible news publication or official government statement describing such an event was publicly available as of July 17, 2023. A search of Google News, which indexes thousands of credible news sites, using the keywords "Bill Gates arrested" produced no credible independent reports supporting the claim. Given Gates' fame, such an arrest would have been widely reported.

Savannah Stephens, manager of public relations at The Washington Post, confirmed in an email to Lead Stories received July 17, 2023, that the outlet "has not published this story."

Lead Stories has also reported that Gates is not engineering a seed that "will target Black people" and possibly kill them, that a safety report does not prove "Bill Gates" lab-grown meat does not cause cancer in humans, and that the Microsoft founder did not create computer viruses and infect Microsoft computers to then sell antivirus software programs.


  • 2023-07-17T22:24:41Z 2023-07-17T22:24:41Z
    Adds response from Washington Post spokesperson.

Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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