Joe Biden claims he was arrested in SA during apartheid - report

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Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Dustin Chambers, Getty Images North America, AFP

US Presidential contender Joe Biden has controversially claimed that he was arrested in South Africa during apartheid, while trying to see former president Nelson Mandela, The New York Times reported.

Biden reportedly made the claim several times while on the campaign trail last week. He reportedly claimed that he was arrested along with the US' UN ambassador.

"I had the great honour of meeting him (Mandela). I had the great honour of being arrested with our UN ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island (sic)," the Times quoted Biden as saying at an event in South Carolina last week.

But Andrew Young, who was the US ambassador to the UN from 1977 to 1979, told the Times that he was sceptical of Biden's account.

"No, I was never arrested and I don't think he was, either," Young reportedly said.

Biden faced backlash on Twitter, with many people wondering why this event did not make the news at the time.

Biden's apparent geographic error also raised eyebrows.

The Biden campaign is under pressure to perform well as the Democratic primaries head into more racially diverse states.

Candidates will compete in the Nevada caucus on Saturday.

With Vermont senator Bernie Sanders largely seen as the party's front-runner, competition is fierce as the other candidates vie for second place. Biden has pinned his campaign on his popularity among more diverse populations, according to CNN.

Biden has the most support among black registered Democratic primary voters, NBC News reported. Support from this demographic for Sanders is catching up to Biden's numbers, according to the report.

Biden is banking on this support following a poor showing in a poll earlier in February, Business Insider reported

- Compiled by Sarah Evans

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