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Fact Check-Suez Canal-blocking ship was not trafficking people or raided by Navy SEALs

Social media users have been sharing articles which claim that dead bodies, trafficked children and weapons were found by the U.S. Navy SEALs (Sea, Air and Land Teams), a special operations force, on the Ever Given container ship that was stranded in Egypt’s Suez Canal for almost a week. The U.S. Navy confirmed to Reuters that this claim is false, Reuters found no evidence of this having happened. One of the photos used as purported evidence is actually of asylum seekers on a ship in Australia in 2001.

Some of the posts (here , here , here), which appear to be linked to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, show screenshots and links to an article which appears on multiple websites (here , here , here) with the title, “Trafficked Children, Bodies, Weapons Found on Evergreen Ship Blocking Suez Canal.”

The article claims, “Over a thousand trafficked children and dead bodies have been rescued out of shipping containers in the Suez Canal by US Navy Seals. […] The containers were on an Evergreen Corporation ship that blocked the Canal from Tues. 23 March to Mon 29 March. […] The Seals also found Weapons of Mass Destruction on the six story high vessel.” Other posts include pictures which they claim show that children were found on the Evergreen ship, linking this to Hillary Clinton (graphic warning here , here).

The posts were written in response to news on March 23 of the 400 meter-long Ever Given container ship, leased by the company Evergreen Line, running aground and blocking the Suez Canal (here). The boat was re-floated on March 29 (here), allowing travel to resume through the passage, which is where around 30% of global container traffic flows annually (here).

Responding to the claims in the social media posts and articles, Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told Reuters via email, “There is no truth to that rumor.”

One of the photos used as purported evidence, seen here and here , is an Australian Associated Press (AAP) image taken in 2001, visible on the AAP website here . The photo actually shows asylum seekers onboard the Norwegian cargo ship MV Tampa, anchored off Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean (here).

Reuters found no evidence of the claims in any credible news reports.

A spokesperson for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (here), the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping, told Reuters via email "I can confirm that the IMO has no knowledge of any information that would support any claims that the Ever Given is linked to human trafficking."

Ayan Ahmed, communications specialist for Polaris, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization that operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and collaborates with the IMO and other partners (here) also told Reuters via email, "I can confirm that U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline has not received any reports about potential trafficking onboard the Ever Given."

An Evergreen Line spokesperson told Reuters via email that “As one of the world’s largest container ships, the Ever Given is capable of carrying up to 20,000 standard 20-foot containers.” Its contents, they said, include a variety of goods and they “unequivocally state that no nuclear material or devices are being carried by Ever Given” and that “Evergreen Line categorically denies being engaged in illegal activity of any sort.”

The article and the posts also allege the ship was co-owned by the Clinton Foundation, however, a spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation confirmed to Reuters via email in a previous fact check here , that the foundation does not own any ships.

Other fact-checkers have published articles debunking the conspiracy about alleged links between Clinton and Ever Given here and here .

Reuters has previously debunked claims that Ever Given was carrying nuclear weapons here or was tied to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki here .

VERDICT

False. Navy confirmed to Reuters that they did not raid and rescue children from the Ever Given ship. A photo used as purported evidence shows asylum seekers in Australia in 2001. International organizations have not received any evidence of human trafficking from this ship. The Clinton Foundation said they do not own any ships.

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

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