World's media tricked by fake bin Laden photo

By Paul Harper

An image of Osama bin Laden after his death yesterday has been revealed as a fake.

The photo, which shows a bloodied bin Laden with a gun wound to the head, is the photo-shopped combination of two images - one of the al Qaeda founder alive in 1998 and another of an unnamed corpse.

The image has reportedly been circulating for two years, but that did not stop the image being picked up by media across the world in the wake of the terrorist's death.

Pakistani TV picked up the image soon after the news of bin Laden's death.

"The picture of Osama bin Laden's dead body has been released. It is unverified," a commentator of Pakistan's Geo said, The Times of India reported.

Britain's Daily Mail, Times of London, Telegraph, Sun and Daily Mirror also all used the image of their websites' front pages, the Guardian reported, although they were quickly taken down.

Associated Press had placed the image on its wires, but soon retracted the photo as it could not verify its authenticity.

The Guardian reported the picture appears to have first been published by the Middle East online newspaper themedialine.org on April 29, 2009, although the site's editor then said they could not ascertain whether it was genuine.

Here in New Zealand, TV3 used the image in its 6pm news bulletin last night.

"We cannot confirm if it is in fact bin Laden but it has been used in international feeds," reporter Mike McRoberts said in a disclaimer prior to showing the graphic image.

The image was not used on the 3News website, however.

A US official revealed the body was photographed before being buried at sea, although no images have been released by the Obama administration.

It is not clear whether photos of bin Laden's body will be released.

- with AP

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