Breitbart Apologizes For Using Photo Of Soccer Star In Human Trafficking Story

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

Breitbart News apologized for using a photo of soccer star Lukas Podolski on a story published Friday about a gang allegedly smuggling migrants to Spain, which had no relation or connection to Podolski.

In an editor’s note appended to the story, last modified on Sunday, Breitbart London apologized to Podolski for including an image of him in the report on “a gang charging migrants 5,000 euros each to bring them across from Morocco via the Strait of Gibraltar on jet-skis.”

“A previous version of this story included an image of Lukas Podolski on a jet ski. This image appeared as an illustration of a person on a jet ski. Breitbart London wishes to apologise to Mr. Podolski,” Breitbart London wrote. “There is no evidence Mr. Podolski is either a migrant gang member, nor being human trafficked. We wish Mr. Podolski well in his recently announced international retirement.”

Nassim Touihri, Podolski’s manager, told a German newspaper that the situation was “a mess.”

“Lukas distances himself from it and won’t let himself be exploited. Our lawyer is already involved,” Touihri said, according to The Guardian.

Breitbart’s apology came days after Steve Bannon returned to the conservative news website to serve as executive chairman after his departure from President Donald Trump’s administration, where he served as chief White House strategist.

It issued a similar correction days before Bannon joined Trump’s campaign in August 2016, on an article about a Trump campaign rally that was accompanied by a photograph of a crowd during a celebratory parade for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A story on Breitbart’s front page early Monday afternoon touted Trump’s endorsement of Bannon’s return to the outlet as “competition” for “fake news.”