Former Romanian deputy prime minister Gabriel Oprea, who has been out of public life in the last two years due to criminal investigations, wanted to make a strong comeback in politics this week. But he managed the opposite, by posting a photo in which he appears to shake hands with former US president Barack Obama during an official visit together with former Romanian president Traian Basescu at the White House, in September 2011. The picture, is in fact an edited version of the original, in which the former Romanian president shakes hands with Obama. The edited photo has already made headlines in local and even international media. It also triggered a wave of ironic comments targeting Oprea. Even the former president mocked him in a Facebook post.
The photo Oprea posted on social media shows him shaking hands with Barack Obama. However, he seems to be looking elsewhere instead of at president Obama. This has prompted a Romanian reporter to look into the official Presidency archives, where he found the original picture made public after that visit, in which Obama shakes Traian Basescu’s hand instead. Most of the details in the two pictures, including the facial expressions of the US president and Romanian officials are identical. Moreover, the hand Obama is shaking – which in the edited version appears to be Oprea’s - and the grip are identical in the two photos. The reporters found another interesting detail after analyzing the two photos: the clock on the fireplace has also been edited. In the original photo the clock has Arab figures while in the edited one, the clock has Roman figures. The time also seems to be different.
When asked by local media to comment on this, Gabriel Oprea said that he and foreign affairs minister Bogdan Aurescu were part of the Romanian delegation that accompanied former president Traian Basescu at the White House and that Barack Obama shook hands with everyone in the delegation, including him. He said that the Presidency and Foreign Affairs Ministry only released the photos of Obama shaking hands with Basescu, but that he received several photos from that meeting, including the one in which he shakes hands with Obama. However, he was unable to say who gave him the photos. “I shook hands with president Obama. Do you think that when you are in an official delegation they don’t shake hands with everyone in the delegation? Ask Mr. Aurescu if they shook hands. It’s normal. I think I have answered your question,” Gabriel Oprea told the Mediafax reporter who asked him about the photo.
Traian Basescu mocked Oprea in a Facebook post saying the former deputy PM reached a new low when posting that edited photo to boost his image. “I understand that the forgery is the signal of his political relaunch, but it seems that forgery has been the sign under which the <<great professor >> has built his life,” Basescu wrote.
Oprea didn’t want to respond to Basescu’s comment saying that his spiritual adviser taught him humility and patience.
The photo also triggered a wave of ironic comments on Facebook. Meanwhile, dozens of edited photos showing Oprea in the presence of famous historic or fictional characters became viral.
(Photo sources: Facebook - Gabriel Oprea screenshot & Romanian Presidency archives, Opening photo: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea)