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Angry Dutch farmers steal Netherlands government jet? No, photo shows plane towed in DRC

A photo circulating on social media in July 2022, including in South Africa, shows a man in a tractor towing a jet aircraft out of a hangar.

It’s being posted with the same caption: “Private jet used primarily by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other officials stolen from government hanger by angry farmers.”

The claim seems to have originated with a 9 July tweet, which so far has gained upwards of 28,000 likes.

Tensions are currently simmering between the government of the Netherlands and the country’s livestock farmers.

In the Netherlands, large numbers of livestock and high fertiliser use sustain an expansive agricultural export industry. With other sources, this has contributed to illegally high nitrogen levels in the country’s water and air. 

In late June, the Dutch government released a plan to cut nitrogen pollution by reducing livestock numbers and fertiliser use. The regulations’ announcement was met with protest in several Dutch cities by farmers who say they will be left in the lurch. 

But does the photo really show a Dutch government jet being stolen by angry farmers in protest against the regulations? We looked into it. 

Jet_False

Photo a frame from video shot in Lubumbashi

On closer inspection, the photo does not show the stealing of a Dutch government plane. As Reuters and others have reported, the photo is a screenshot from a video on stock media site Pond5

The video is captioned: “Jet being towed by tractor from hanger in African airport - Lubumbashi, DRC”. The user who uploaded the video has posted similar footage that’s also described as shot in Lubumbashi, a city in the far southeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We could not find any evidence that a Dutch government plane has been stolen by farmers in the Netherlands. Neither could other fact-checking organisations (as seen here and here). 

And one fact-check noted that the serial number of the aircraft in the photo shows it is a deregistered plane owned by a US-based company – not one of the planes used by the Dutch government.

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