Recent TikTok videos of Lilu King, a man who was arrested and held in custody on money laundering charges in a high-profile case earlier this year, led to a public outcry, with many asking why the man is no longer in custody.
In the videos, he can be seen partying and flaunting several of his luxury cars. However, these videos actually date back to before he was arrested and many were posted on his Instagram page over a year ago. They are now being shared again by a fake TikTok profile.
Mohamed Ali Ahmed Elmushraty, known on social media as ‘Lilu King’, is a Tunisian-born Libyan boxer who travelled to Malta as a refugee in 2015. He later became a popular social media influencer, racking up thousands of followers on Instagram.
He is wanted by law enforcement in Tripoli in connection with a raft of crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking. He has been in custody in Malta for over three months, after he was charged with several crimes, including money laundering and involvement in organised crime, in late May.
In early August, a TikTok account using Lilu King’s nickname began posting a series of videos, seemingly in an attempt to suggest that he is no longer in custody. A total of 18 videos were posted, starting on August 8.
In these videos, Lilu King can be seen walking around several localities across Malta, partying and riding a jetski, amongst other things.
The videos were shared across several Facebook groups, including several groups known to stoke anti-foreigner sentiment, leading some to express their outrage at Elmushraty’s apparent freedom.
However, each of these videos dates back to a time before Elmushraty’s arrest.
One video intersperses a short clip of two men on a jet ski (neither of which appears to be Elmushraty) with photos of him riding a similar-looking jetski that were uploaded to Instagram over a year ago.
Another shows Elmushraty walking down Valletta’s Strait Street accompanied by another man, both wearing winter coats. The video was first uploaded to Elmushraty’s Instagram account in January.
A similar pattern can be spotted across each of the TikTok videos posted over the past weeks. In each case, an old video from Elmushraty’s Instagram account was re-uploaded, designed to appear as though it were new.
The TikTok account being used to post these videos appears to have been created in recent weeks and has not shared any other content aside from these videos.
The account bears several hallmarks of fake profiles. It had never posted any content before these recent videos, does not follow any other TikTok users and does not appear to have any links to other social media accounts.
This disinformation campaign coincided with Elmushraty’s latest appeal for bail, which was turned down by the courts on Thursday 31st August.
While arguing for bail to be awarded, Elmushraty’s lawyer Franco Debono obliquely referenced these posts, saying “as far as I know, showing off on social media is not a crime”.
The issue of bail has once again come under the spotlight in recent weeks with the disappearance of Jomic Calleja Maatouk leading to renewed calls for electronic tagging of persons out on bail.
The videos being shared on TikTok over recent weeks were previously uploaded to Elmushraty’s Instagram account before his arrest in May.
The TikTok account sharing the videos appears to be a fake profile that was only created in recent weeks. It has not shared any other content aside from these videos.
This claim is therefore false, as the evidence clearly refutes the claim.