Fact Checks

Authors: Raffaele Riccardo Buccolo and Leonardo Delfanti

Digital Communication Network (DCN) Global


Summary of the article

  • The figure of Thierry Meyssan and the role played by Voltaire Network
  • Who is Romanian senator Diana Sosoaca?
  • No evidence that embassies closed before the earthquake
  • Pipeline e earthquake wave detecting
  • The Silk project
  • Biden and international aid



Between the night of 5 and 6 February 2023, a strong earthquake of 7.8 intensity struck the southwestern part of Turkey, with its epicenter in the province of Gaziantep, 90 km from the Syrian border. The international response was short in coming, and in a matter of hours, the joint support of all governments that maintain bilateral relations with the countries in question has mobilised.

A few days later, on 14 February 2023, the Voltaire conspiracy network published a piece entitled “According to Senator Diana Ivanovici Șoșoacă, the United States caused the earthquake in Turkey and Syria“. In the article, the Romanian senator brings forward what in classical logic is called a fallacy of the suppressed evidence: a process that proposes an argument based on circular reasoning for which the hypothesis appears true. However, if the information contained in the premise were to emerge, it would invalidate the conclusion.

This article aims to prove the mistake made by Senator Diana Sosoaca and the Voltaire Network.

The figure of Thierry Meyssan and the role played by Voltaire Network

Journalist Thierry Meyssan is the grey eminence behind Voltaire.Net, once a left-wing think tank born in the mid-nineties to establish “an information unit at the service of lay organisations” to promote freedom of speech and secularism in France. The initial aim was to create an alternative news agency dedicated to the fight for freedom of expression, the defence of individual liberties and fighting against extremism in France.

In particular, Meyssan, who in 1989 had already founded project Ornicar, dedicated to “human rights and the abolition of sexual discrimination”, was engaged in publishing editorial contributions welcomed by all political movements except for the extreme right.

Everything changed in the aftermath of the Twin Towers terrorist attack in 2001. Thierry published the book 9/11: The Big Lie, according to which the aggression was a “false flag” operation created by the USA to invade Afghanistan. From that moment on the network, which at the time counted personalities who later made a career in the French administration, has expanded its connections to include two news agencies, as this DFRLab debunking shows.

And it is precisely in the line of ancient imperialism to the bitter end that Voltaire Network has, over the years, abandoned the space granted to international issues to the detriment of national problems, a relativisation of the question of secularism in favour of a discourse increasingly focused on the American superpower criticism.

These considerations are not so isolated as to accuse Meyssan of using Voltaire as a “documentation centre at its service”.

In an interview given in 2015 to the French newspaper Humanité specialist in public policy evaluation, Gilles Alfonsi said that “Thierry Meyssan is nominated by the major media of the liberticide regimes. He is an instrument of the States that support him. Meyssan is not a newborn of politics but an old “backpackers of the word”.

Who is Romanian senator Diana Sosoaca?

Named by Sputnik News “Romanian politics of the year 2021”, Diana Sosoaca is well known in her country for her Novax and ultra-national positions. Class 1975, enrolled in AUR, the main party of the extreme Romanian right, the senator rose to the list of European news agencies in 2020 after seizing a troupe of RAI (Italian broadcast television) came to interview her for her denial positions on the vaccine and the effects of COVID-19. The Italian embassy had to intervene to solve the case.

More recently, in the months after the invasion of Ukraine, he embarrassed the government after a statement about Romania’s “neutrality” in the ongoing conflict. In March 2023, she presented a bill to annex the Ukrainian territories of the Northern Bukovina, the Hertsa region, Budjak, Northern Maramureș and Snake Island as “historically linked to Romania”.

It is not surprising that Senator Sosoaca has decided to publicly define the earthquake in Turkey as “caused by the United States”.

Twelve days after the earthquake, an article was published on voltaire.org entitled “According to Senator Diana Ivanovici Șoșoacă, the United States caused the earthquake in Turkey and Syria” which resumes the speech in parliament of Senator Șoșoacă of 8 February 2023. Șoșoacă exposes all the evidence that the earthquake has artificial and not natural origin, thus caused by field forces directed by the USA. Several national newspapers have picked up the news, and voltaire.org has repeatedly raised the issue.

After careful analysis, we did not find any proof of the involvement of foreign forces in the Turkish field. In addition, analyzing the top secret file, which is currently being declassification and collects the registers of the Silk project, we have not found common and possible connections with the earthquake of February 6 in Turkey.

No evidence that embassies closed before the earthquake

One of the main arguments of the thesis is the issue of the removal of staff from European embassies a few days before the earthquake. According to Senator Șoșoacă, this would show that embassies and their governments knew directly about the catastrophic event. It is good to separate the topics because the earthquake and embassy personnel withdrawal are unrelated events.

This can be seen first and foremost in the decision by which the ambassadors were recalled to their country of origin: security reasons linked to the high possibility of attacks after a right-wing extremist.

This event occurred on 21 January, and a few days later, several countries issued a high-risk alert for possible attacks throughout Turkey. As a result, on January 30, the US embassy website published a Security Alert with the following motivation: “cautions its citizens of possible imminent retaliatory attacks by terrorists against churches, synagogues, and diplomatic missions in Istanbul or other places Westerners frequent, especially in the Beyoglu, Galata, Taksim, and Istiklal areas”.

On the same day, the Italian embassy in Ankara published a security update: “In the light of the bombing on 13 November 2022 in a central area of Istanbul, recent incidents in which copies of the Koran in Europe were burned and, finally, potential terrorist threats, it is recommended that precautions be taken, also following the instructions given by the local authorities, in high-frequented places in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, in the main cities of the country and in the most famous tourist and seaside destinations (e.g. Cappadocia), avoiding celebrations and gatherings, military and law enforcement installations, places close to diplomatic and consular posts, places of worship, including Christian ones, and headquarters of associations and foundations of a religious nature, especially on the occasion of political events or religious ceremonies”.

Three days after the beginning of the terrorism alert, it is the Twitter account @ItalyinTurkey published an update on February 3, 2023, in which he wrote that “all Italian institutions in Turkey are regularly open to the public”. On 3 February, all Italian institutions were officially re-opened, and staff were resettled.

We are three days away from the earthquake, so it is false to say that “several countries have closed the embassies because they knew in advance of the earthquake”, because as demonstrated, the reopening of some embassies took place three days before the cataclysm. Equally false is to argue that “Western countries have advised against travel to Turkey without giving explanations” because, as widely claimed in the previous lines, the sites of the embassies in question have provided explanations and issued, on these, a security alert. To reinforce this thesis is the evidence gathered on the profile of the Italian consul in Turkey, Alice Testa, who was visiting Gaziantep just a few hours before the earthquake.

Pipeline e earthquake wave detecting

A second statement in the article quotes a hypothetical closure of Turkish pipelines one minute before the earthquake without further explanation. However, an earthquake consists of several phases, and the same waves cause a seismic event to be multiple. This is why the seismic detectors of which a pipeline is composed can perceive a wave before it destroys the surface.

The article “Pipeline Technology: Automatic earthquake-actuated device can shut down pipeline valve system” analysed the earthquake in Turkey in 1999. The p or primary waves are the fastest of the three types of seismic waves that we know (primary, secondary and superficial) and the construction of algorithms that incorporate information on the recognition of the P waves was already being studied in 2000; even then, it was possible to obtain with a temporal advantage the info of a robust incoming shock, thus activating the sensors that allow the closing of the valves. For this reason, it is firmly disinformation to argue that “if the pipeline was interrupted a minute before, it means that the government was aware of the event”.

In addition, today, the research on earthquake prediction is firmly at the forefront. The earthquake in Turkey has shown how research on multiple fields can lead to very effective predictive models. For example, this is the case of Frank Hoogerbeets, a German researcher who, three days in advance, predicted the exact location and magnitude of the Turkish earthquake by studying the influences between planets.

It is incredibly harmful to the public to inform about pills without providing an adequate context. The senator first and the article’s author then summarized the complex intervention on the oil & gas pipeline with an empty phrase without any informative value. The scenario is much more complicated. Despite the technology available today, minimizing damage as reported by Reuters, explosions in the Hatay region have led to extensive fires.

The article in the analysis also refers to the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline by the United States to support the narrative line. Here you can read how the author of the article “How America Took out the North Stream Pipeline” and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh composed an analysis full of errors, false information and undetected reconstructions.

The Silk project

The article continues by introducing a fourth narrative strand in support of the thesis of the Romanian senator, arguing that “During World War II, the United States successfully tested the possibility of causing tsunamis, as confirmed by declassified New Zealand documents”. We were able to download and read some excerpts of the silk project.

First, there is no logical correlation between a tsunami and an earthquake. The same information as the Silk project confirms that the explosive charges used for the experiment between the 1940s and 1950s were all placed in water and not on land, which makes the scenario completely different.

The Silk project dossier, which the article’s author cites as evidence to demonstrate practical US know-how on artificial earthquakes, was declassified on 1 March 2012. In the document, it is possible to read the project’s premises, that is, the purposes for which the same task was conceived. The reasons cited: “Project Seal origin, Investigation of the potentialities of inundation through artificially produced tidal waves for offensive purposes”. It is, therefore, clear that the test for artificial earthquakes does not find any place among the premises of the project, let alone the word earthquake or ground does not appear in the more than 116 pages of the intelligence report.

The first conclusions of the experiment, dated January 8, 1945, show how, for an effective success, the explosive charges should be placed on the surface rather than on the seabed, thus making a similar operation extremely visible for modern satellites, which would require over 2,000 explosive charges placed at a distance from each other.

It is then the same agencies and experts that deal with recording the tremors before and after an earthquake, in short, to confirm the nature of the phenomenon.

Biden and international aid

Contrary to what the senator said, the international rescue machine moved immediately. On 7 February, Brussels activated its “civil protection mechanism” to deal with the situation, announcing the departure of relief from the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic. According to the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, 1180 people specialised in search and rescue in urban settings were mobilised.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak immediately launched a campaign to “guarantee his help by all possible means”. Also on 6 February, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced aid, as did Italy, whose Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the same day that he had “made civil protection personnel available”. Spain has “immediately mobilised men and drones”. While the head of the Polish diplomacy, Mariusz Kaminski sent 76 firefighters and eight rescue dogs a few hours after the tragedy.

China and the US also responded quickly. On February 6, Joe Biden said he was “deeply saddened” by what happened and was following the situation closely to “provide all the necessary help, whatever it is”. In the aftermath of the earthquake, on February 7, the first rescue teams left China: men and dogs specialised in finding survivors under the rubble. At the same time, as evidenced by a photographic report of the US Air Forces in Europe published at 18:35 on 7 February, the American rescue machine had already left for Turkey.

Despite the conflict, Ukraine and Russia did not hesitate to offer their help. On 7 February, Volodymyr Zelenzky said he was “ready to provide the necessary help to overcome the consequences of the disaster”. Immediately, the Kremlin promised aid to both Syria and Turkey. President Vladimir Putin has spoken to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian Head of State Bashar al-Assad. At the same time, the Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu has proposed to Turkish Minister Hulusi Akar the sending of medical material to assist victims.

Indian authorities have sent search and rescue teams and medical personnel, as announced. Congratulating the relief workers on the ground on 9 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was ready to provide “all possible help” to both Turkey and Syria to support both nations. Even Benjamin Netanyahu and Armenia intervened a few days later “at the request of the Ankara government”.

On February 6, the United Nations, in the person of the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, immediately confirmed that they were “ready to provide emergency aid for survivors, to the extent possible”.  ” Our teams – the general secretary of the UN has explained, Antonio Guterres – are present in the place to estimate the necessities and bring assistance. In addition, the Portuguese diplomat has relaunched calls from Turkey and Syria for aid worldwide.