Photo of Joe Biden with Jeffrey Epstein is doctored

An image shared online appears to show US President Joe Biden smiling beside Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced American financier who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex crimes. But the picture is manipulated, combining separate photos of each man.

"Any bets on why the Epstein list hasn't been released yet? Just asking for a friend," says a June 7, 2024 post on Facebook.

<span>Screenshot from Facebook taken June 21, 2024</span>
Screenshot from Facebook taken June 21, 2024

Similar posts spread on other platforms, including X.

The posts reference the January release of previously undisclosed documents that named more than 150 people linked in legal proceedings to Epstein, a convicted sex offender who had a bevy of celebrity friends.

The files were unsealed as part of a defamation suit between Epstein's former mistress Ghislaine Maxwell, who in 2022 was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and a plaintiff against the duo, Virginia Giuffre.

Fabricated accomplice lists and doctored photos of Epstein and others have circulated for years, fueling speculation about his potential associates in the sex trafficking of minors.

But the image purporting to show Epstein posing beside Biden is a fabrication that fact-checkers debunked as early as 2021.

Reverse image searches revealed it combines a photo of Epstein with an unrelated picture of the president.

The real photo of Epstein dates to 2005 and shows him with businessman Jose Francisco "Pepe" Fanjul. Outlets such as Vanity Fair published the shot, crediting it to Getty Images and the Patrick McMullan Company (archived here and here).

<span>Screenshot from Vanity Fair taken June 21, 2024</span>
Screenshot from Vanity Fair taken June 21, 2024

Anne Flanagan, vice president of brand and communications for Getty Images, confirmed to AFP that the version circulating online is doctored.

"The image has been manipulated and President Biden does not feature in the original photograph," Flanagan said in a June 21, 2024 email.

The original photo of Biden, meanwhile, traces to a 2008 gallery from The Friedlander Group, a New York City firm specializing in government advocacy, public relations and political event management (archived here and here).

<span>Screenshot from The Friedlander Group taken June 21, 2024</span>
Screenshot from The Friedlander Group taken June 21, 2024

The Democrat was posing with Ezra Friedlander, the group's CEO (archived here).

AFP contacted The Friedlander Group for comment, but no response was forthcoming.

AFP has fact-checked other misinformation about US politics here.