EDINBURGH, Scotland, June 12 (UPI) -- A middle-age, married American man pursuing an advanced degree in Scotland claims he is the writer of the popular blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus."
New York Magazine reported Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old peace activist from Georgia who is studying at Edinburgh University, revealed his hoax in a post Sunday, saying he had been writing the blog since February using the fictitious cover he created, 35-year-old Syrian lesbian writer Amina Abdallah Arraf.
Photographs of "Arraf" posted on the "Gay Girl" blog are actually Jelena Lecic, a London woman who says her identity has been stolen, the magazine said.
"While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground," MacMaster wrote. "This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism."
It wasn't until Internet investigators raise red flags about the blog that MacMaster, who is married to University of St. Andrews student Britta Froelicher, revealed it was he who had been writing the blog about life in Syria as seen through the eyes of a lesbian, including that "Arraf" had been arrested by Syrian security forces last week.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported MacMaster claims he was "the sole author of all posts on this blog."
"I never expected this level of attention," he wrote while allegedly on vacation in Istanbul, Turkey.
"The events [in the Middle East] are being shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience."