In recent days, the world has followed closely the saga of Amina Araff, the blogger who presented herself online as “A Gay Girl in Damascus” and who drew attention with her passionate writings about the Syrian government’s crackdown on Arab Spring protesters. Those writings stopped last Tuesday, and a posting to the blog, ostensibly written by a cousin, said she had been hauled away by government security agents.

News of her disappearance became an Internet and media sensation. The U.S. State Department started an investigation. But skeptics began asking: Has anyone ever actually met Amina? Two days after she vanished, images presented on her blog as being of Amina were revealed to have been taken from a London woman’s Facebook page.

And Sunday, the truth spilled out: The gay girl in Damascus confessed to being an American man from Georgia.

The persona he built and cultivated for years — a lesbian who was half Syrian and half American — was a tantalizing Internet-era fiction, one that Tom MacMaster, 40, used to bring attention to the human rights record of a country with severe media restrictions that make traditional reporting almost impossible.

MacMaster wrote an apology on his blog Sunday: “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. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.”

The hoax raised new questions about the reliance on blogs, Tweets, Facebook postings and other Internet communications as they increasingly become a standard way to report on global events. Information from online sources has become particularly important during the Middle East uprisings, especially in countries such as Iran and Syria, which severely restricts foreign media and has turned technology against the protesters.

MacMaster, a Middle East peace activist who is working on his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, wrote that he fictionalized the account of a gay woman in Syria to illuminate the situation for a Western audience.

Amina’s story may have remained believable, but when he wrote of her arrest, his fans — in a desire to help the woman they’d grown to care about — found evidence that led back to MacMaster.

In telephone interviews and email exchanges with The Post over the past three days, MacMaster initially denied any connection to Amina. He insisted he had never heard of her before the news of the arrest and that he had been unaware of the blog.

“Look, if I was the genius who had pulled this off, I would say, ‘Yeah,’ and write a book,” said MacMaster, reached in Istanbul, where he is vacationing with his wife, who is working on a doctorate in international relations.