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Fact Check-Ottawa judge did not order police to return fuel to Canadian ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters

The Ottawa Police have not been ordered to return fuel to those taking part in the Canadian ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstration, despite widely circulated claims made online. The service told Reuters that no such order was given, and the spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General told Reuters that they could not find any such order issued by a judge for police to return fuel cannisters.

On Feb. 6, the Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency to bring the days-long demonstration in central Ottawa to an end ( here ).

On the same date, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) announced that anyone found bringing fuel to the demonstration trucks in red zone could be subject to arrest and charges ( here ).

In the Feb. 6 statement, the OPS also said that “multiple vehicles and fuel” had been seized.

On Feb. 7, police said they had seized thousands of liters of fuel and removed an oil tanker as part of a crackdown to end the demonstrations against COVID-19 measures ( here ).

Following the statement, some online claimed that judges had since ordered the OPS to return the fuel that had been confiscated.

One user tweeted on Feb. 8, 2022: “Judge orders Ottawa Police to return the confiscated fuel back to the truckers.” The tweet gathered more over 35,600 likes at the time of writing ( here ).

A video circulated online purportedly showing police returning the fuel containers, with one user sharing the 2:20s clip with a caption on Twitter that reads: “This is absolutely epic.. Ottawa police returning all fuel they stole from truckers following Judge’s order.!” ( here ).

Other examples of the claim made online can be seen ( here ), ( here ), ( here ), ( here ), ( here ) and ( here ).

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, however, told Reuters that they could not find any such court order.

“Court staff have conducted a search for the referenced court order, and have been unable to locate any such order,” Brian Gray, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, told Reuters.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Justice also told Reuters: “The Department of Justice Canada was not involved in any such court case.”

A search on the Ontario Court of Justice website did not reveal any such court order ( bit.ly/3oNV8jN ).

A similar search on the Superior Court of Justice site did not reveal any results either ( bit.ly/3rOxIwI ).

A Twitter advanced search did not reveal any news article published by local media (Ottawa Citizen, CTV Ottawa, Global Ottawa) pertaining to the alleged court order ( bit.ly/3gHBNw4 ).

Although Reuters could not find the source of the widely shared clip showing an individual filming rows of containers, firewood and barbeque sets, it does not feature any police officer, nor does the individual in the clip mention that the canisters were returned to protesters by the OPS.

In a statement to Reuters on Feb. 11, 2022, a spokesperson for the OPS said: “Ottawa Police are not returning seized items associated to the demonstration, such as fuel. Operations are ongoing to shut down demonstrator staging and supply sites, including those on Coventry Road.”

In response to the online rumors, the OPS tweeted on Feb. 10, 2022: “Ottawa Police are not returning seized items associated to the demonstration, such as fuel” ( here ).

In a statement released on Feb 10. 2022, the OPS also said that were continuing to “prevent people from supplying fuel and other material supports to demonstrators” ( here ).

VERDICT

False. The Ottawa Police Service is not returning fuel to ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrators, a spokesperson told Reuters. A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General said that staff at the MAG could not locate any such court order.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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