WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Navy SEAL who helped kill Osama bin Laden allegedly kept an unauthorized photo of his corpse, The Intercept reported Tuesday.
Matthew Bissonnette turned over a hard drive that contained the photo to U.S. investigators in exchange for an agreement that he wouldn’t be prosecuted for unlawfully possessing classified material, according to the The Intercept.
CNN cannot independently confirm this report. Naval Special Warfare Command referred CNN to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and calls to NCIS were not returned.
Bisonette’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, declined to comment to CNN on the contents of The Intercept article, the specifics of the information in question and whether there has been any ongoing contact between the Pentagon and Bissonette’s legal representation.
He did, however, tell CNN that previously a “government investigation into alleged mishandling or improper disclosure of classified information by Matthew Bissonette was closed in August 2015 with a declination.”
The federal government has attempted to keep photos of bin Laden’s corpse from being made public, fearing that the photos would trigger a backlash.
The decision to hand over the hard drive reportedly allowed NCIS and Justice Department investigators to discover records tied to Bissonnette’s work as a consultant while also serving as a member of Navy SEAL Team 6.
Bissonnette was a liaison for SEAL Team 6’s command to equipment suppliers, The Intercept reported, leading investigators to focus on whether his performance in that role might have been influenced by his business dealings.
Bissonnette was a member of the elite SEAL team that participated in the bin Laden raid. While fellow team member Rob O’Neil is widely credited with firing the shot that killed bin Laden, Bissonnette is believed to have also fired rounds that may have hit the former al Qaeda leader.
Bissonnette’s 2012 book “No Easy Day” detailed the bin Laden raid and was a departure from typical U.S. Special Operation procedure of maintaining silence about the group’s activities.