Photographer of Donald Trump Jr.'s Skittle Analogy Image Was a Refugee

Donald Trump Jr. RNC Speech - H 2016
Win McNamee/Getty Images

David Kittos, a former refugee from the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, was dismayed at finding his image used by the Trump campaign in the anti-refugee debate.

Donald Trump Jr. was widely condemned Monday on social media for his tweet comparing poisoned candy to Syrian refuges. In a new twist, the BBC has revealed that the Trump campaign had stolen the image from the Flickr page of photographer David Kittos, a U.K. citizen and former refugee.

The caption above an image of a bowl of skittles and the Trump-Pence logo read, "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem."

Trump Jr. tweeted the image with his own add-on: "This image says it all. Let's end the politically correct agenda that doesn't put America first."

The image made the rounds on social media, with President Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeting the haunting image of the 5-year-old boy who survived an August airstrike in Aleppo: "This is one of the millions of children you compared to a poisoned Skittle today."

In response to the controversy, Denise Young, vp corporate affairs for Wrigley’s, which owns the Skittles brand, issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter: "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing."

Kittos, who is not an active Twitter user, was alerted to the theft of his image by friends. 

“This was not done with my permission, I don't support [Trump’s] politics and I would never take his money to use it," Kittos said. "In 1974, when I was 6 years old, I was a refugee from the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, I would never approve the use of this image against refugees."

Kittos recalled his family having to leave everything behind as a refugee, their property and possessions. He was dismayed at finding the image used in the current refugee debate.  

The photo is protected under copyright license under Kittos Flickr account. He is not sure whether he will bring legal action against the Trump campaign.

"I would like the Trump campaign to delete the image, but they are probably not interested in what I have to say," he said. "I was thinking about getting lawyers involved but I don't know if I have the patience.”