An article circulating on social media claims that President Barack Obama was arrested on Nov. 28 for espionage. This is false. The fabricated article includes segments of a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Aug. 17, on the arrest of a former CIA officer.   

The article, visible  here  (archived version  here ), was published on Nov. 28 by a site describing itself as a Canadian conservative news site ( here ), called The Conservative Beaver.  

The first paragraph of the story says, “Barack Obama, a former President of the US, was arrested on Nov. 28, 2020, on a charge that he conspired with a business partner of his who also was a former CIA officer to communicate classified information up to the Top Secret level to intelligence officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”   “The Criminal Complaint containing the charge was unsealed this morning,” it adds.  


The article claims “the announcement” of the purported arrest was made by U.S. officials, including Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price; it also includes their alleged statements.  

A Google search of the statements in question brought up a DOJ press release  here , about the detainment of Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who was arrested on Aug. 14.  The release, however, makes no mention of Barack Obama.  

It appears the first paragraph of the release was edited in the story by the Conservative Beaver to reference Obama and a recent date. The fake story also says Obama was charged on conspiring “with a business partner of his who also was a former CIA officer”, while the DOJ release refers to “a relative of his (Ma) who was also a former CIA officer”.     

The article includes virtually the same statements by U.S. Attorney Price, Alan E. Kohler Jr., Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Eli Miranda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Honolulu Division.  

Several media outlets reported on Ma’s arrest ( here , here ,  herehere ). 

This fabricated article copied segments of a press release from the Department of Justice on the arrest of a former CIA official, not President Obama. Reuters found no credible news reports on the alleged arrest. An event of this kind would have widely been reported in the U.S. and elsewhere.  


Reuters recently debunked the claim George Soros was arrested, also published by The Conservative Beaver ( here ).  


False. President Barack Obama was not arrested. This fabricated article copied segments of a press release from the Department of Justice on the arrest of a former CIA official.  

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