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Hong Kong’s Top Media Official Shared a Fake Photo of a Beaten Cop

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The Hong Kong cop’s wounds looked grave — so grave, in fact, that he appeared to have just arisen from one.

The media-and-communications adviser to Hong Kong’s beleaguered leader, Leung Chun-ying, posted a photo to Facebook on Wednesday that showed a grimacing, blood-spattered “cop” said to have been wounded in a clash with pro-democracy protesters the previous night.

The photo was being circulated by supporters of the police, keen to show that the demonstrators weren’t as peaceful as they claimed to be.

“Everybody who uses violence is wrong,” wrote an impassioned Andrew Fung, under the photo of a man wearing police blue, his hands and face caked in bright blood. “If the police get hurt, you should have sympathy. The idea of democracy includes love.”

There is no suggestion that Fung knew the image to be a fake when he shared it. But, unfortunately for him, this was not a Hong Kong cop. It was an actor, made up to play an undead cop on a new local TV show called Night Shift.

The gaffe has left Fung, and many others who shared it, also red-faced — but with embarrassment, not cheap theatrical makeup.

HKTV, the network set to air Night Shift, confirmed on Facebook on Wednesday that the image was of one of its actors. It posted the zombie-cop photo next to a picture of the show’s actor without his living-dead makeup.

Twitter users also gleefully pointed out the error.

Ironically, Fung’s post about a grievously injured policeman came as outrage built in the city over the beating by officers of a political activist during a demonstration in the early hours of Wednesday. The violent incident was filmed by a TV news crew and has jolted open a fresh rift in unrest that has paralyzed parts of downtown Hong Kong for almost three weeks.

Fung’s Facebook page is private, and it was not clear on Thursday if the post was still there.

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Write to Elizabeth Barber / Hong Kong at elizabeth.barber@timeasia.com