A small Australian company was in the midst of a publicity storm after reports linked it to dealing cannabis with the Taliban. However, it turned out the whole story was a fabric of the imagination.
The firm, Cpharm Australia, was accused of agreeing to establish a hashish processing plant worth up to $450 million for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Some of the biggest news outlets, such as the BBC and the Times, picked up and ran the story yesterday.
However, they had to remove the articles immediately after it emerged that the story was untrue – the firm had, in fact, had nothing to do with the Taliban.
Cpharm Australia is a small family company, specialising in medical consulting in Australia. They said they had not spoken to the Taliban, and they’ve got nothing to do with dealing overseas – especially dealing cannabis overseas.
Cpharm Australia, according to its agenda, provides medical advice about pharmaceutical products, however, it is not a manufacturer and would not take on a manufacturing contract in any case.
The firm’s chief financial officer, Tony Gabites, told Reuters: “We’re just trying to work out what we’re going to do to stop it.
“We’ve had probably 40 or 50 calls today. It’s just out of control, and it’s just all lies, media guys not doing any due diligence on what they want to publish.”
How come they got involved in the story, then? Mr Gabites suspected that the whole tsunami of misunderstanding came from a Taliban-linked Twitter account that mentioned another company called Cpharm, in a recent tweet.
Cannabis played an important role in Afghan culture for centuries before it became illegal in the country.
Even though cannabis has been illegal in Afghanistan since the 1970s, a report by the United Nations (UN) in 2010 named Afghanistan the largest cannabis producer in the world.