Italian screenshot
© Polizia di Stato website screenshot
Shortly after reputed Western media dramatically misquoted an Italian police statement on a huge missile seized from a neo-Nazi cell fighting for Kiev in eastern Ukraine, the original has been altered to become markedly vague.

Italian state police made big headlines across Europe when it reported of raids and arrests on a neo-Nazi underground organization taking place all over the country. An air-to-air missile was seized from an ultra-right group that also managed to stockpile Nazi memorabilia and dozens of military-issue firearms. Police said the group has fought on the side of the Ukrainian government forces in the breakaway eastern region of Donbass.

A host of Western media, such as Reuters, CNN, the Guardian, BBC and CBS, got the latter part profoundly wrong and reported that the busted gang was fighting alongside the Donbass rebels. RT reported on the embarrassing gaffe on Monday evening, but a day later, only BBC seems to have taken notice and altered their story.

In a puzzling Tuesday development, however, the Italian police stepped in to alter the original statement. The widely misquoted Monday report initially spoke of "some people linked to political movements of the ultra-right that had fought in the Ukrainian region of Donbass against the separatists."

Edited version screenshot
© Polizia di Stato website screenshot
Edited version
The edited version only mentions "some Italian fighters with extreme ideologies responsible for having previously taken part in the armed conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine."

No immediate explanation has been provided for the editing of the report, but one can't help but notice how it made the text much less specific. The new phrasing makes it impossible to tell from the source alone for which side the neo-Nazi group in question was fighting in the Ukrainian conflict. For an outside observer not familiar with the subject, it may not be obvious that neo-Nazis have not been associated with the Ukrainian rebels, and that on the other hand, some Kiev-backed volunteer groups fighting in Donbass have been using Nazi Germany-inspired insignia and slogans for years.

Oddly enough, the edited statement bears a striking resemblance to the wording that some local newspapers used to make the news less precise, also describing the neo-Nazis as having "taken part" in the Ukrainian conflict.

The operation that uncovered the French-made missile was led by Turin anti-terrorism police force DIGOS. It involved extensive searches of private properties and arrests in various locations in Italy. Police said they also found nine assault rifles, a submachine gun, seven pistols, three shotguns and 20 bayonets, along with almost a thousand rounds of ammunition.