Documentary on Sharifs’ ‘corruption’ is not produced by Netflix, confirm makers


ISLAMABAD:

Misleading posts viewed hundreds of thousands of times claim that a documentary on alleged corruption by Pakistan’s prime minister is an “upcoming Netflix series”, but a producer for the film told AFP it is independently produced. A Netflix spokesperson also said the company has not been involved in production.

The video was shared here on Twitter on October 17, 2022, and has been viewed more than 300,000 times. Comments on that and similar posts suggest that many users believed the documentary was produced by Netflix. “Netflix series on Dirty money Stashed in London…Behind closed Doors. Coming Soon…!!!” reads the tweet. 

In the one-minute and 41-second clip, titled Behind Closed Doors, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his sons are accused of engaging in illegal financial operations. The Sharif family, including three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the brother of the current prime minister, have been embroiled in countless corruption and money laundering allegations. The family deny the accusations and argue they are politically motivated.

Sharif took office on April 11, following a parliamentary no-confidence vote in which legislators voted to dismiss his predecessor, Imran Khan. Since then, Khan, the chairman of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has mounted a political campaign against the ruling coalition, organising rallies around the country in an attempt to cripple the government and force early elections.

The misleading video has been viewed more than 72,000 times in social media posts alongside similar claims on Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. The video was also shared on Twitter with a similar claim by PTI leaders Taimur Khan Jhagra, Momina Basit and Faisal Amin Khan, where it was viewed more than 28,000 times. Shireen Mazari, who served as the country’s human rights minister during Khan’s government, retweeted the trailer with a similar claim, which was then shared more than 2,400 times.

Social media users appeared to believe that Netflix is producing the documentary.

“His supporters will still celebrate this saying ‘look, Netflix is making a documentary on our leader!!” read one Urdu-language comment. “Praise Allah. Even international media like Netflix are making documentaries about him,” another user said. A Netflix spokesperson, however, told AFP that the platform has no plans to add the documentary to its service.

Independent production

A keyword search on Google found the same video published here on YouTube on October 17, 2022, by a YouTube channel operated by Independent POV, an independent production company that makes documentaries that explore themes of secrecy, financial crimes and the abuse of power. The video’s caption reads in part: “Behind Closed Doors is a film about corruption in high places and those who enable it.”

Michael Oswald, a producer of the documentary, said it has no affiliation with Netflix. “As with all of Independent POV’s documentaries to date, it is independently produced and funded,” he told AFP. The official website for the documentary links to a crowd-funding page to help support its production.

About Behind Closed Doors

According to the synopsis of Behind Closed Door, “It is a film about corruption in high places and those who enable it.”

The statement further read, “Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) are people who hold a public function and as a result, present higher risks of being involved in bribery or corruption. Offshore leaks have revealed repeatedly that PEPs use British finance and British offshore jurisdictions to launder their wealth, hide their wealth and re-invest it into the global financial system. London is the place where they buy property, where they take legal action against their critics and where they live when they fall from grace.” 

It concludes with, “But what happens when a developing country fights back and attempts to get Britain to return the money that it claims has been stolen?” 

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