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“New” George Papadopoulos Photograph Actually Years Old

October 31, 2017

By Aric Toler

An account that apparently belongs to George Papadopoulos shared a photograph with the text “#business” on October 25, 2017, just days before news broke that Papadopoulos pled guilty to the FBI for making false statements to the FBI regarding meetings connected to Russia and the Trump presidential campaign. For more information on Papadopoulos’s plea and the information he has provided to the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign, see this overview.

This October 25th photograph gives the impression that Papadopoulos was in London, just outside of the well-known Harrods department store.

In case Papadopoulos deletes this tweet, an archived copy can be found here.

However, close analysis of the photograph along with some creative Googling reveals that this photograph was not taken on the day of the tweet, or even in 2017.

Sticker Inspection

Google has a timeline feature to Google Street View, allowing us to note changes in locations that are frequently photographed by Google cameras. Behind Papadopoulos, a series of stickers are visible on a light pole, including an orange-and-black sticker with a bird (top) and three stickers directly below it.

You can view the pole with stickers on Google Street View here.

When comparing this pole through the timeline on Google Street View, it becomes clear that the three stickers below the large orange-and-blackone were removed sometime between July 2014 and May 2015. In March 2017, they were not present.

Others came to this conclusion online, such as Alex Billig on the morning of October 31.

Recycled Photograph

Close analysis of stickers on a pole is not the only way to know that Papadopoulos recycled the photograph. If we do a reverse Google Image Search on the October 25th tweet photograph, we find it used in a Romanian news article from September 30, 2016.

Often times, we cannot trust the dates given to news articles due to errors in content management systems or deceiving back-dated articles. However, we know that this article was actually published in 2016 because the page, with the same photograph, was saved on archive.org on October 1, 2016.

Conclusion

It is unclear why Papadopoulous, assuming this Twitter account does indeed belong to him, recycled an old photograph just a few days before news broke regarding his plea. It is possible that he was hoping to give the appearance of everything being normal, or that he was in London, when he may have been in Washington at the time. As details continue to emerge around Papadopoulos and the FBI’s investigation, we may know more about if this photograph was meant to act as a smokescreen, or just an innocent instance of recycling an old photograph on social media.

Aric Toler

Aric Toler has written with Bellingcat since 2015 and currently leads the Eurasia/Eastern Europe team. Along with his research into topics in the former Soviet Union, he organizes and leads Bellingcat's Russian-language workshops for journalists and researchers. He graduated with an MA in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Kansas in 2013, focusing on Russian literature and intellectual history. After graduation, he worked for two years as an intelligence specialist in the private sector. If you have any questions, or have a story idea related to eastern Europe or Eurasia, you can contact him at arictoler@bellingcat.com

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10 Comments

  1. Alex Billig

    He may also have been in London as late as April 2017, between FBI interview and arrest, as one of his first follows after setting up his Twitter was the Natural History Museum (15 mins walk from Harrods). Others have speculated on meetings with Assange but I see nothing very convincing on those lines.

    Reply
  2. Rufin Zamfir

    How about the London weather this 25th? Or weather – shadows correlations? Otherwise, the distance between Harrod’s and Embassy of Ecuador is 1 minute walking.

    Reply
  3. -

    From he comments, he probably also set his Facebook cover photo to Big Ben around 21 October 2012,

    Reply
  4. -

    From the comments, he probably also set his Facebook cover photo to Big Ben around 21 October 2012, 9 March 2013, 22 May 2014 and 2 August 2016

    Reply
  5. Craig

    He still went to London as an adviser, met David Cameron (coffee boy!) and told him to apologise to Trump. Further, he also went to Israel to discuss Russian policy (or coffee?!).

    The attempted deflection away from the truth of all this by right wing/Republican media is staggering.

    Reply
  6. Margarita Mejias

    This might immaterial but where is Flynn?
    Haven’t seen or heard about him since Mueller started taking more aggressive action

    Reply
  7. trak

    Where is the connection to Rumblemia ehhh Russia? The propaganda poisoned brains of atlantic council got lost in their own maze, same way they got lost in their BUK 312,3X2,311,321,3×3 etc. fairy tales.

    Reply
  8. Y. Grebenshchikov

    Or maybe he wanted to look good in the photo he knew would be circulating across the world.

    Reply
  9. PLASTIC DUCK

    In a well known case that I will not mention in public the aforesaid web archive can not be considered reliable. This comes about due to allegations of the UK government being involved in a missing child cover up to protect the parents and as a result of a post by CEOP/Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command copied by the web archive/WBM before the disappearance happened and seemingly dated Monday April 30th 2007. The said disappearance was reported as being on Thursday May 3rd 2007 late in the evening, and so CEOP could not have posted anything about the case until at least Friday when the outcome of said disappearance still could have been a child lost for a few hours, a body being found, and when the local police did not have any idea of what had happened. The WBM then, after correspondance, stated that their screenshots could not be inaccurate. Within a few days the WBM removed said shots, albeit they can do so by request. Since the cover up case involves the then UK PM Gordon Brown, and even shortly later the PM Mrs May the then Home Secretary, the question still remains as to if the WBM is in any way accurate. If Bellingcat wishes to know more they can contact me and I can deliver a series of screenshots that reveal the truth and discuss it further. I am a serious and experienced investigator of cases of international fraud and such matters interest me and it all plainly does not add up. The ramifications of the structure of WBM and of it having any use at all must be questioned.

    Reply

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