WASHINGTON – A former U.S. Navy SEAL kept an unauthorized photo of Osama bin Laden’s corpse on a computer that he turned over to investigators, a U.S. news site reported Tuesday.
The discovery came after Matthew Bissonnette, who shot bin Laden in the 2011 raid on the al-Qaida leader’s compound in Pakistan, gave investigators a copy of his hard drive.
He had been under investigation for allegedly revealing classified information in his book about the mission, “No Easy Day.”
Bissonnette gave investigators his hard drive as part of a deal to avoid prosecution over the material, two people familiar with the deal told The Intercept.
On it, they found the bin Laden photo and documents detailing Bissonnette’s work as a consultant while also serving with SEAL Team 6, the Intercept reported.
The U.S. government has never released images of bin Laden’s body and says the al-Qaida leader was buried at sea shortly after the raid.
President Barack Obama has cited national security risks and said the United States should not brandish “trophies” of its victory.
Robert Luskin, an attorney for Bissonnette, told The Intercept his client had previously been under investigation but the Department of Justice closed that probe in August.
Luskin said he brokered a deal in 2014 for Bissonnette to give the U.S. government some of his millions of dollars in book profits. He did not comment on the purported photo, or whether an investigation remained open.
Aside from the image, some of the records found on Bissonnette’s computer were not part of the nonprosecution deal, so led to a widening probe being conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, The Intercept reported.
Investigators have started looking into Bissonnette’s business deals, and whether he inappropriately used his SEAL connections to help in ventures with military equipment-supply firms, The Intercept wrote.
Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 when SEALs stormed his hideaway in Abbottabad, Pakistan.