MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish politician said on Saturday that he was “stupefied” by the FBI’s decision to use his photograph to compose its latest image of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and is considering taking legal action. “Firstly I will ask the FBI for an explanation, which they haven’t given me yet, and then I will reserve the right to take legal action,” Gaspar Llamazares told CNN+.
“In the last few days I have seen the security services involved in some very strange things, some major failures, but I would never have believed they could have affected me so directly,” he said.
LLamazares is a former leader of Spain’s communist party Izquierda Unida and is currently its parliamentary spokesman.
An FBI agent said the organisation was aware of similarities between the image — an “age-progressed photograph” intended to give an updated idea of bin Laden’s appearance — and that of “an existing photograph of a Spanish public official.”
Special agent Jason Pack said a forensic artist had been unable to find suitable features from the FBI’s database of photographs and used a picture from the Internet instead.
“The forensic artist was not aware of the identity of the individual depicted in the photograph,” Pack said, adding that the image would be taken off the “Rewards for Justice” website, a State Department site.
“I am stupefied the FBI has used my photo — but it could have been anyone’s — to compose a picture of a terrorist. It affects my honour, my own image and also the security of all us,” LLamazares said.
A spokesman for the Spanish prime minister’s office said a Spanish official had suggested to the U.S. embassy in Madrid that it contact Llamazares to explain the matter.
The embassy’s Councillor for Public Affairs William Ostic told Reuters that he telephoned LLamazares Saturday to apologise for the error.
Reporting by Judy MacInnes, Raquel Castillo and Iain Rogers in Madrid and Jasmin Melvin in Washington; editing by Dominic Evans