• Missing four-year-old girl Cleo Smith found 'alive and well' by WA Police in Carnarvon house. (Instagram/Ellie Smith)Source: Instagram/Ellie Smith
The network published images of a man that has no connection to the child's abduction.
Jodan Perry

4 Nov 2021 - 10:08 AM  UPDATED 4 Nov 2021 - 3:50 PM

Seven News has apologised for identifying an Aboriginal man as the 36-year-old suspect that was arrested by WA police over the Cleo Smith abduction.

The network published a number of photographs of the man on its website on Wednesday along with his name.

Later that night, they issued the following statement on their website.

"Earlier on Wednesday 7NEWS wrongly showed images of a man that were incorrectly labelled as the person under arrest over disappearance of Cleo Smith," it read.

"These were removed promptly, but 7NEWS apologises for the error."

Members of the community were quick to point out the error on social media, while Pilbara-based First Nations broadcaster Ngaarda Media slammed the damaging mistake.

“A man who has been wrongly accused has been harassed online due to misinformation. He shares the same name as the alleged abductor,” they posted.

“Because people jump the gun when they look up Facebook, they put in [his name] straight away."

Ngaarda Media said the wrongly identified man has contacted the police.

“He broke down and cried and he was sobbing," the post said.

“I’d like people to wait for the police to give out information.”

The four-year-old girl was found "alive and well" in a Carnarvon house early on Wednesday morning after being taken from a campsite 18 days earlier.

The 36-year-old resident of the house is currently in police custody.

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