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Do these photographs show Imran Khan’s jail cell?

Images actually show cells in Ohio State Reformatory and Alcatraz


Claim: Two photographs show the jail cell in which Imran Khan is being detained.

Fact: The images are, in fact, of cells in the closed-down Ohio State Reformatory and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary; they were taken in 2021 and 2016.

On 11 August 2023, X (formerly Twitter) user @p4pakipower1 posted a picture (archive) apparently of a prison cell in which the former prime minister and chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, has been detained, and wrote the following caption:

“اِس طرح کی موت کی چَکی میں امریکہ کے غلاموں نے شیرِ پاکستان عمران خان کو رکھا ہوا ہے!!
[The slaves of America have kept Imran Khan, the lion of Pakistan, in this kind of death mill!!]”

A similar post (archive) features another picture of a jail cell, alleging the PTI chief was being kept there. The accompanying text — which includes the hashtag “#عمران_خان_کو_رہا_کرو,” or “#ReleaseImranKhan” — is as follows:

“اٹک جیل سے خان صاحب کی جاری کردہ تصویر۔۔۔
عمران خان صاحب جہاں رکھا گیا ہے اٹک جیل بیرک کی چھت سے ساری رات بارش کا پانی ٹپکتارہا،دن کو مکھیاں اوررات کو کیڑے تنگ کرتے ہیں۔۔۔
عمران خان نے کہا کہ جیل میں اگر سی کی جگہ ڈی کلاس بھی مجھے دی جائےتومجھے قبول ہے۔۔۔
[Photo released by Khan sahab from Attock Jail.
The roof of the Attock Jail Barracks, where Imran Khan is being kept, is dripping with rainwater all night, while flies bother in the day and insects at night.
Imran Khan has said he would accept if he is given a D-class [cell] instead of C-class [cell] in prison.]”

The former PM has been incarcerated since 5 August 2023, when he was arrested and imprisoned after a court ruled his “dishonesty has been established beyond doubt” in the Toshakhana case.

Khan hid “the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer wilfully and intentionally” and “cheated while providing information of gifts he obtained from Toshakhana, which later proved to be false and inaccurate” during his tenure from 2018 to 2022, as per a short order — cited here (archive) — by Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar of an Islamabad trial court.

The 70-year-old was given a three-year jail sentence but maintains his innocence. He faces over 100 charges since his removal from power last year, according to the BBC (archive).

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reverse-searched both images and found them not only to be old but also unrelated to Imran Khan or Pakistan.

The first image is of a cell in the Ohio State Reformatory, a historic prison formally known as the Mansfield Reformatory that has now ceased operations but is open to the public as a museum and where the 1994 movie “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed. The picture was uploaded (archive) to Unsplash, a royalty-free photography website, by Michael & Diane Weidner (@michaelbweidner) on 21 March 2021.

Michael & Diane Weidner have also posted other photos from their tour on their profile, such as here, here, and here.

The second image is of a cell in the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a fort-based prison in the San Francisco Bay, also known as The Rock, that has now ceased operations. It is now open to the public as a museum.

Google Lens led us to this website (archive), which states that the image is in the public domain and was fetched from Pixabay (archive), where it was uploaded by user LisaRedfern on 25 October 2016, identified through page source.

We found similar images of Alcatraz cells here, here, and here on Unsplash; an 11 February 2021 photo by user @umanoide shows the cells next to the one in the viral picture in question.


Soch Fact Check found the images posted here, here, here, here, and here. Moreover, this tweet received over 55,000 views.

Conclusion: The images are, in fact, of cells in the closed-down Ohio State Reformatory and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary; they were taken in 2021 and 2016.

Background image in cover photo: @ImranKhanOfficial

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