PR Firm Paid $25,000 for Asma Assad Vogue Photo Shoot [Updated]

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Assad
Assad Photo: Sasha Mordovets/2010 Sasha Mordovets

For a controversial, now-scrubbed-from-the-web profile of Syrian president Bashir Al-Assad's wife Asma, someone paid a PR firm $25,000 to set up the photo shoot with the dictator's family, according to the Washington Post. Although the Daily Beast originally reported that the payment came via Vogue, the magazine clarified in a statement to Intel that "We weren’t involved and aren’t aware of any payment." The PR firm in question, Brown Lloyd James, has a working relationship with the Syrian government. But the magazine may not have gotten the real thing: The author, Joan Juliet Buck, says she highly doubts the children pictured are actually the Assads'. Buck — whose prose was awfully flattering — now says she was "horrified" to be near the couple and points to the title editors gave the piece, "A Rose in the Desert," as the biggest problem (or at least her biggest regret) with the article.

This post has been updated for accuracy.