John Kerry has not been charged with a felony under an obscure U.S. law, despite false claims being shared online that say the former secretary of state is facing jail time.
At least a dozen websites, including PoliticsFocus, ran identical stories claiming Kerry faces charges under the Logan Act, a 1799 law barring private citizens from conducting diplomacy. The stories carry the same headline about a “major announcement” from the White House, but the White House made no such announcement on charges against Kerry.
The Logan Act is almost never invoked and no has been convicted of violating it, although it came up in reporting last year on charges against fired Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was also not charged with it.
The PoliticsFocus story referred to a report that Kerry, who served in the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017, had a meeting with a confidante of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and was critical of the Trump administration.
A spokeswoman for Kerry said the remarks attributed to Kerry in that report were not accurate, “nor obviously the fraudulent story concocted about charges.”
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.