The reported kidnapping of blogger Amina Araf has taken a bizarre turn as a London woman claims that the woman pictured in newspapers and online is actually her not Amina.
Araf, known for her blog ‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’ (which documents her experiences of being a gay woman in a constraining society) was last seen on Monday. Her cousin Rania Ismail witnessed Amina being approached by three armed men and then bundled into a car.
Amina’s profile had risen shortly before her disappearance; she had been involved with public anti-regime demonstrations. Media reports of the case feature an image of a young woman with bobbed hair and a mole above her eyebrow. A facebook page calling for her release has over 12,000 members.
However a London Publicist has issued a press release claiming that the woman in the image is actually Jelena Lecic and not Amina Afar at all. The statement featured photos of Lecic, they claim there is nothing to distinguish the woman purported to be Afar from images of London resident Lecic. Publicist Julius Just has said Ms Lecics ex husband contacted him when images of her began to surface in relation to the case.
Lecic herself was quoted in the release as saying “I pray that Amina is safely returned to her family but I want to make it quite clear that I am not her despite my photographs being attached to this story,”
It is as yet unknown how the images were confused; it is suspected that they were taken from her facebook account.
The Afar case has triggered some scepticism, NPR’S Andy Carvin and The New York Time’s Lede blog raised doubt over the story, no one has actually confirmed that they have met Afar in person or that she is even the author behind ‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’.