A German television host appears to have claimed responsibility for doctoring a video of the outspoken Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis sticking up his middle finger in a gesture aimed at Germany.
Footage from an hour-long conference in Zagreb, in Croatia, where Mr Varoufakis outlined his view on dealing with the economic crisis in Greece was circulated earlier this month.
In it, he appeared to put up his middle finger for the camera and say: “My proposal was that Greece should simply announce it was defaulting within the euro in 2010 and stick the finger to Germany and say, well you can solve this problem yourself.”
Mr Varoufakis conceded he had made these comments but staunchly denied making the gesture and insisted the video footage had been doctored, saying: “I assure you I can prove it beyond reasonable doubt. It never happened.”
Jan Böhmermann, host of the satirical programme Neo Magazin Royale on the public-service TV network ZDF, showed two versions of the footage from the 2013 conference; one where Mr Varoufakis seems to stick up his middle finger, and one where he does not.
“But who should be interested in faking such a thing?” the presenter asked.
“Only thing I could imagine is this is the work of a small, fee-financed loser-show aired on a TV channel governed by public law … And that’s how we did it.”
The show proceeded to show footage demonstrating how the video was seemingly manipulated by a production team.
Mr Böhmermann claimed the stunt was to demonstrate the way in which the public jump at news that may create a negative perception of someone. He said he has been waiting to be contacted by the media to be asked whether he faked the footage since Sunday.
However, in an even more confusing twist, the German tabloid Bild is reporting that Böhmermann’s manipulation video is itself a fake, and claims that the ZDF network will admit this later today, according to Business Insider.
Mr Varoufakis demanded an apology from Günther Jauch, host of the Günther Jauch weekly talk show show, who confronted him with the footage when he was a guest on the show.
In a separate tweet responding to Böhmermann, he praised “humour, satire and self-deprecation” as “great solvents of blind nationalism”.
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