Telefonica Germany has axed its advertising contract with Vanessa Hessler, an Italian-American model and girlfriend of one of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi's sons, after she made comments supporting the Gaddafi family to an Italian magazine.
The 23-year-old model, who was born in Italy and spent much of her childhood in Washington DC, told Italian magazine Diva e Donna, "The Gaddafi family is not how they are being depicted, they are normal people."
Ms. Hessler had a four-year relationship with Gaddafi's 34-year-old son Mutassim Gaddafi. In the magazine, she describes their relationship as "a very beautiful love story… I didn't have any contact with him since the uprising broke out, but our relationship was one of passion."
A tweet from the Twitter account of Telefonica Germany, a subsidiary of Spain's telecommunications giant Telefonica, said "Vanessa Hessler's relationships are her private business. However we cannot accept her comments on the Libya conflict."
Ms. Hessler was famous in Germany, Italy and France as the face of Telefonica's internet brand Alice. Her image had been all over the website, alice-dsl.de, but has been removed. She has also done campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein and L'Oreal, and appeared in several Italian TV shows.
Ms. Hessler's Facebook page has attracted posts including "When she's getting riches and living the life at the expense of a whole population then she's just as guilt as they are."
Mutassim Gaddafi died with his father outside the city of Sirte in Libya on Oct. 21, and the two men were laid out for public viewing in a makeshift morgue before being buried in a secret location.