SBS News: The Gay Sex videos do not appear to be altered’…

17 June 2019

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Excerpts from

SBS

Investigations

A gay sex tape is threatening to end the political careers of two men in Malaysia

A political-aide could face prosecution over the video, which allegedly involves the man tipped as the country’s next prime minister. It is a disappointing step backwards, say LGBT rights activists.

While countries around the world shake off colonial-era laws criminalising homosexuality, in the socially conservative Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia they are still being used for political ends.

This week, 27-year-old political aide Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz will find out whether he is facing prosecution over a gay sex video which has rocked the country’s political establishment one year into its new administration.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a group of Malaysian journalists were added to a Whatsapp group by an anonymous number and sent three video clips.

The grainy footage of two naked men being intimate on a bed in what appears to be a hotel room alleged to show Malaysia’s Minister for Economic Affairs Azmin Ali, an up-and-coming politician often touted as a future prime minister.

zaza.jpg

Political aide Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz says he appears in the video and now may face charges.Social media

Mr Azmin vehemently denied the allegations, saying he was not the man in the video and calling it “vicious libel”

Gay sex between men (broadly defined as ‘sodomy’ under colonial-era laws) is illegal in Malaysia and carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
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Last week’s videos spread through Whatsapp and then became prominent national news. The following day, political aide Mr Haziq released a video saying he was the other man in the video.

Mr Haziq – who works for another politician in the same party as Mr Azmin – claimed to have slept with Mr Azmin at a hotel on 11 May in the city of Sandakan, in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah.

Mr Azmin threatened to sue Mr Haziq over the claims.

“This is nothing but a nefarious plot to assassinate my reputation and character in an attempt to destroy my political career,” he said in a statement.

Is the footage real? 

Dr Mahathir has said the video alleging to show Mr Azmin is a fake.

“Nowadays, you can produce all kinds of pictures if you are clever enough. One day, you may see my picture like that too,” he said.

Kevin Nguyen, a digital forensics expert who has previously consulted and provided content verification for the BBC and the New York Times and now works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, analysed the three videos for SBS News.

“At an image level, forensically it checks out. I ran a number of forensic analysis … across the three videos and at the six points I checked there was no evidence of photo or image manipulation.”

Mr Nguyen said he could not rule out the video being a ‘deepfake’, a term for the fairly new artificial intelligence based technology which involves machine learning techniques to superimpose a face on a video.

Deepfakes were initially used to superimpose celebrities’ faces onto pornographic videos, but have since moved into the political realm.

“If it’s a deepfake, it’s a very good one,” he said.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/a-gay-sex-tape-is-threatening-to-end-the-political-careers-of-two-men-in-malaysia

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Australian media organisation, SBS News, has consulted several experts on the sex clips implicating Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali.

The report stated that although unable to confirm if the person in the video is indeed Azmin, the experts, however, agreed that there appeared to be no digital alteration.

“If it’s a deepfake, it’s a very good one,” said one of them, Kevin Nguyen.

According to SBS, Nguyen is a digital forensics expert who previously consulted and provided content verification for the BBC and the New York Times, and now works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Following his analysis of the three clips, Nguyen said: “At an image level, forensically it checks out. I ran a number of forensic analysis… across the three videos and at the six points I checked, there was no evidence of photo or image manipulation.”

Drawing a similar conclusion was Professor Siwei Lyu from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Albany in the US.

“Barring the compression artifacts, there are no definite trace of deepfake algorithms, such as inconsistent face orientations, or ‘floating’ of faces,” he said.

SBS, a state-funded news outlet, described Siwei as an expert in deep learning and media forensics.

However, another expert Giorgio Patrini, CEO of Australian company Deeptrace, said the quality of the videos was too low for a conclusive analysis.

Patrini’s firm deals with authenticating deepfake videos.

“None of the analysts could confirm that Mr Azmin is the man in the video, they only concluded the video appears to not have been digitally altered,” read the report.

Red flags

Meanwhile, another expert, University of Technology Sydney’s Denby Weller, said there were certain “red flags”.

“It’s been shot in portrait mode on a phone by the looks of it, although that look can be artificially created in post-production.

“It has also been shot from a slightly elevated position (the height of the camera is very hard to fake), which would indicate that the phone was pointing slightly downwards at the men,” she said.

Weller had trained in video verification with the Google News Initiative.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/479928

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https://www.sbs.com.au/news/a-gay-sex-tape-is-threatening-to-end-the-political-careers-of-two-men-in-malaysia

 

 

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