An FBI agent says 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”.
“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,” Spanish MP Gaspar Llamazares said.
“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.
Mr Llamazares is a former leader of Spain’s communist party Izquierda Unida and is currently its parliamentary spokesman.
FBI 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,” Mr Pack said, adding that the image would be taken off the FBI website.
“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,” Mr LLamazares said.
A spokesman for the Spanish prime minister’s office said a Spanish official had suggested to the US embassy in Madrid that it contact Mr Llamazares to explain the matter.
The embassy’s Councillor for Public Affairs, William Ostic, said that he telephoned Mr LLamazares on Saturday to apologise for the error.