Leonardo DiCaprio has denied a claim by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro without evidence that the actor and environmentalist was funding fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Bolosnaro’s claim follows social media posts alleging that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had paid for photos of forest fires in the Amazon from volunteer firefighters and then used the photos to solicit donations, including from DiCaprio, according to Reuters.
“The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them,” DiCaprio said of the Amazon rainforest in a statement posted to Instagram on Saturday. “While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted.”
“I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians,” he added.
The WWF has also denied obtaining photos from firefighters and receiving a contribution from DiCaprio.
Reuters quoted Bolsonaro as saying Friday that DiCaprio was “giving money to torch the Amazon.”
The South American leader has sought to blame several people and groups for the fires. He said in August without evidence that “everything indicates” nongovernmental organizations were responsible.
“So what did the NGO do? What is the easiest thing? Set fire to the forest. Take pictures, make a video,” he said Thursday, according to Reuters. “[WWF] makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000.”
Blazes have been ravaging the forests for months, and Bolsonaro has received criticism for his government’s easing of environmental protections.