MIA Probers Say 3 Photos Are Phonies
The Defense Department said Monday that several photographs purportedly showing Vietnam-era U.S. prisoners of war were lifted from a 20-month-old issue of a Soviet magazine and are not pictures of missing Americans.
The discovery was made by a U.S. team in Cambodia investigating a now-widely circulated snapshot said by family members to show three U.S. pilots shot down over Indochina. The Defense Department, however, still has not pinned down the origin of the snapshot alleged to show the three missing pilots, according to Cmdr. Edward Lundquist, a Pentagon spokesman.
“They found three pictures that were purported to be those of missing Americans and that we now know came from an open-source Soviet magazine,” Lundquist said. The men in those pictures were not missing Americans, he added.
Three of the photographs were found in a January, 1990, issue of the Soviet magazine Sovetsky Soyuz, Lundquist said.
The magazine was on the shelf of a Cambodian library and apparently was picked up for copying by an unscrupulous bounty hunter.
Ten days ago, the Defense Department, citing preliminary information, said one possible source of the grainy photo of three men “lies in a ring of Cambodian opportunists led by a well-known and admitted fabricator of POW-MIA information.”
NBC News broadcast three photos Friday that it said were culled from Soviet magazines as part of a hoax. It said these pictures came from “a Cambodian businessman,” the same source as that of the photo of the three men.
Among these was one with handwriting on a sign similar to that held by the three men in the picture that the United States has been investigating and another showing a group of men all holding signs and dressed for cold weather.
“The Cambodian who sold the pictures is well known as a forger,” the network said.