The bearded version of an “age-progressed” image of Osama bin Laden that was the source of international embarrassment for the FBI because it was photoshopped from facial features of a top Spanish politician is still posted on a most wanted Web site, days after the FBI said it would be removed.
The bureau apparently did scrap one permutation of its “aged” bin Laden, a beardless version that bore a striking resemblance to left-wing Spanish politician Gaspar Llamazares.
But a bearded, turbaned version of the very same image — also clearly based on Llamazares’ face — remains up on FBI-State Department site Rewards for Justice. (See the full version here.) *SEE UPDATE BELOW*
The FBI was quoted by multiple media outlets as early as last Saturday promising that the image would be removed. It’s not clear whether the bureau is comfortable with the version that features a pasted-on beard and turban.
Other news organizations — including the AP, in a widely reprinted story today — erroneously reported that the “FBI has since removed the doctored photo of bin Laden from the site.”
The AP story adds that Llamazares, who rejected an apology the U.S. ambassador’s apology today, “wanted guarantees that the images were not still in the hands of intelligence services at airports or other places abroad.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment about when, if ever, the Llamazares-based bin Laden image would come down.
Late 1 p.m. Update: The bearded bin Laden picture has now been pulled from the Rewards for Justice Web site. (See screengrab of old version here.) FBI spokesman Ken Hoffman tells TPMmuckraker that the bureau was not worried about the image, but “we decided out of an abundance of caution to pull all the pictures done by that artist.” He says they will all stay down pending review.