OPERATED BY CEJ

False

FACT-CHECKED

by CEJ |

Imran Khan did not pay money for publishing of Zeteo interview as alleged by PML-N’s Hina Butt

On May 29, 2024, PML-N lawmaker Hina Parvez Butt claimed that senior foreign journalist Mehdi Hasan took money to publish PTI founder Imran Khan’s interview. However, the MPA misunderstood the meaning of a “paid” article which Hasan clarified meant it was for his paid subscription users.

Claim

Senior journalist Mehdi Hasan takes money to publish PTI founder Imran Khan’s interview

Rating Justification

The iVerify Pakistan team has checked this content and has established that it is false.

To arrive at this verdict, the IVerify Pakistan team checked a response from senior foreign journalist Mehdi Hasan to PML-N lawmaker Hina Parvez Butt.

HOW IT STARTED

On May 29, 2024, PML-N’s Member of Punjab Assembly Hina Parvez Butt shared a post on her X account with a screenshot of PTI founder Imran Khan’s interview with Zeteo, a news media organisation founded by renowned foreign journalist Mehdi Hasan.

The caption for her post said: “Take the money. Give an interview,” insinuating that Hasan took money to publish the interview on his platform since she circled “paid” in the article.

However, she did not explicitly say who from Imran and Hasan took the money and who provided the interview.

The post garnered more than 492,000 views.

METHODOLOGY

The iVerify Pakistan team sought to determine the veracity of the claim due to the virality of the lawmaker’s post as well as because numerous users pointed out to her that she had wrongly understood what the meaning of “paid” was in the interview’s context.

An additional context note added by users for other readers said: “She is misleading that Imran Khan is being paid for the interview which is totally wrong. Actually, the paid on the article represents that this article is for paid subscribers. Anyone can scroll down on given link to see what I mentioned.”

And indeed, scrolling down the article, Hasan said that it was an “exclusive interview” for Zeteo.

“It is, therefore, also the first piece of content since our formal launch last month that we have decided to place behind a paywall, available solely for our paid subscribers. If you have a free subscription, please do consider upgrading it today and offering your financial support for Zeteo’s journalism, especially as we begin increasing the number of paywalls around our exclusive online content,” the article said, explaining its terms of access for readers.

Hasan, who took the interview and is also the editor-in-chief of Zeteo, responded to Butt’s post, saying: “This Pakistani politician from the governing party is pushing a conspiracy theory that I was ‘paid’ to do my interview with Imran Khan. ‘Paid’ on the post below means it’s a post only for paid subscribers to Zeteo. Imagine being this ignorant and conspiratorial … and elected! Lol.”

In a followup post, he said: “Pretty sure that if there was a big conspiracy involving Imran Khan paying Zeteo (!) to do an interview with him, we wouldn’t stick … ‘PAID’ at the top in plain sight to give it all away. 😂😂. Anyways, here’s the interview for paid subscribers.”

“Paid” subscription models on news and media websites generally provide users with access to exclusive content, such as in-depth articles, reports and features that are not available to the general public at the cost of a monthly payment.

These subscriptions often come with additional perks, including an ad-free experience, special newsletters, podcasts and event invitations. Zeteo too operates on such a model.

BACKGROUND

Imran is incarcerated in Adiala Jail serving sentences in multiple cases since August 2023. Despite being behind bars, he has continued to communicate with the public and international community through interviews with foreign media outlets. These interviews serve as a platform for him to express his viewpoints, defend his actions, and rally support, highlighting his ongoing influence and the political turmoil in Pakistan.

CONCLUSION

The iVerify Pakistan team has determined that the claim of PML-N lawmaker Hina Parvez Butt regarding an alleged “paid” interview of Imran Khan is false.

The interview article and the platform owner themselves already explained and clarified that “paid” meant the article was behind a paywall for subscribers and not that there was any transactional exchange between Imran and Zeteo for the interview to be published.

Evidence and References

May 29, 2024, Zeteo Imran Khan interview:
https://zeteo.com/p/exclusive-imran-khan-talks-to-mehdi

May 30, 2024, X post of Mehdi Hasan:
https://perma.cc/V6XT-TDSP?type=image

May 30, 2024, X post of Mehdi Hasan:
https://perma.cc/C6RG-S7BS?type=image