17/09/2015 13:35 BST | Updated 17/09/2015 16:59 BST

Why Student Samuel Hardy Refuses To Sell His Hezbollah Flag Picture Of Jeremy Corbyn To The Media

Jeremy Corbyn might have his critics, but he's got one very loyal supporter in student Samuel Hardy, who is refusing to sell a picture of the Labour leader to the media for fear it will be taken out of context.

Despite needing the cash, the 21-year-old won't sell out, as he is concerned the photograph, which depicts Corbyn standing in front of a Hezbollah flag at a pro-Palestinian protest, would be used to "slander" him.

The student took the photo at the Al-Quds Day rally in London in 2012, but did not realise the banner represented the Islamic militant group, and uploaded the image onto his blog.

samuel hardy

The picture Samuel Hardy took in 2012

Corbyn's critics used the image to claim the MP had posed with the flag and that he had attended "anti-Semitic and racist" rallies.

"Jeremy Corbyn’s office emailed me asking whether the photo could be removed, saying they were quite worried about it," Hardy told The Independent. "Bloggers were posting slanderous stories saying he was posing with the Hezbollah flag but he wasn't."

After Corbyn's election to Labour leader, Hardy received a phone call from Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, asking him to "name his price" for the photo.

"As a student not really with an income, part of me thought I could do with the money," Hardy admitted, before realising he did not want to compromise his integrity.

"It’s wrong on so many levels, knowing that your photo is going to be used to describe something that really wasn't there."

Speaking to The Huffington Post UK, Hardy said: "Honestly, I was not expecting this sort of response from people.

"The response has - on the whole - been largely positive. Friends, family, and complete strangers contacting me and commenting on my posts, praising me for sticking to my values and protecting my integrity."

Earlier this year, Corbyn was questioned as to why he had previously described Hezbollah and Hamas - another militant organisation - as "friends".

He told Channel 4 News' Krishnan Guru-Murthy he had used the word "friends" in a "collective way" at a meeting in parliament.

He added: "Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.

"There is not going to be a peace process unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas and I think everyone knows that."

Hardy has come under fire for his decision not to sell the photograph, with one person posting on his Facebook page: "Instead of deflecting from your hypocrisy, you would do well to understand that fundamentalist Islamic terror organisations, such as Hezbollah and all the others too, are happy to use and cooperate with Europe’s far-left as a means to an end or so long as it serves their purpose.

"Milk your short lived prominence as long as you can, because Corbyn won’t last long and neither will your fifteen minutes of fame..."

Hardy, who had to clarify he is not a Hezbollah supporter, replied: "In an email exchange, and over the phone, I was told by the paper that they wanted my photo of Jeremy "posing" in front of a Hezbollah flag.

"It really doesn't take a genius to realise that that *is* taking the photo out of context and what they were subsequently going to write about in their article - if you disagree then fair enough, but I didn't have long to make my decision and to let them know my answer. And by "certain agenda" I mean to label Jeremy Corbyn as some kind of hater of Israel or even an antisemite."

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