June 13th, 2011
03:18 PM ET

U.S.: Speaks to appalling situation in Syria that 'Gay Girl' blogger thought credible

The State Department says it was “skeptical from the very beginning” that the blog by a supposed young gay Syrian-American woman living through repression in Damascus was true.

Sunday, an American man revealed on the blog that he was the author, admitting that he pretended to be the woman, “Amina Adballah", and said he regretted the damage he caused. In a interview done via Skype with the British paper The Guardian, Tom MacMaster said he had created the fake online identity "because it's hard" to write from that perspective, and he considered it "a challenge."

Spokesman Mark Toner said Monday at his briefing that the State Department early on could not verify key details of the blogger’s identity, including confirming the woman’s citizenship, checking it out in the U.S. data bases. In Damascus, Syria, officials were unable to contact any of her friends or family members. “We began suspecting early on that this was not a real person,” Toner said.

Syria’s state-run news agency SANA pointed to the blog as proof that the world is lying about the crackdown, stating: "MacMaster's hoax aimed at enhancing continuous fabrications and lies against Syria in term (sic) of kidnapping bloggers and activists."

Asked whether the revelation of the hoax would undermine credibility of the repression currently under way in Syria, the State Department’s Toner told reporters: “I think it speaks to the appalling civil rights situation in Syria that so many people says the story, heard about the story, took it to be credible, and called for action in support of her. No one is under any illusions that the Syrian government has been carrying out a vicious crackdown on its own civilians and I don’t believe that that is affected on whit by this story.”

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