Update: “gay girl blogger” in Syria may not actually exist

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Nerve recently reported, as did most of the internet, on the alleged detaining of "gay girl blogger" Amina Arraf in Syria. Many expressed concern for the brave, queer, multinational girl who wrote passionately and eloquently about government repression and life as a lesbian in one of the least gay-friendly nations in the world. But new facts have come to light that suggest Arraf might not be who she says she is, and more to the point, might not actually exist.

First of all, virtually every photo said to be of Arraf (including the one you see above), has been proven to be of a London woman named Jelena Lecic, who Arraf has been using as her double for a while now. She has pictures of Lecic on her own Facebook page and apparently sent that photo to the Guardian when she was up for an interview with them, which she later turned down.

Which leads us to the second point — the fact that literally no one has ever clapped eyes on this girl, or even spoken to her in person, including her Canadian girlfriend, with whom Arraf had an email-based relationship.

In fact, every time Arraf has been up for a meeting, something has gone wrong — once she called a meeting off because she claimed to have been tailed, and another Skype meeting was canceled because of the government's alleged block on the program.

Finally, Arraf has admitted to mixing fact and fiction on a different blog, writing: "This blog will have what may sometimes seem likely [sic] deeply personal accounts. And sometimes they will be. But there will also be fiction. And I will not tell you which is which."

Though admittedly still in the making, this story has a brilliantly skewed sort of arc to it: someone invents a too-good-to-be-true blogger from a repressed nation (a lesbian! an outspoken lesbian!) and then conveniently disappears her. Of course, that's the jaded view — these are all steps that a persecuted minority and outspoken dissident could rationally take to protect her identity, and since Arraf may well be an actual woman in Syrian custody, we shouldn't jump to conclusions. But I would rather have this turn out to be an elaborate construction than have a real woman in the custody of some very bad people.