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Rihanna speaks after photo leaked

21 February 09 10:30 GMT

Pop star Rihanna has issued a statement thanking fans for their support after an alleged assault by her R&B singer boyfriend Chris Brown.

However, she declined to comment on a leaked photograph which appears to show her with facial injuries.

"At the request of the authorities, Rihanna is not commenting about the incident involving Chris Brown," the star said via her spokesperson.

"She wants to assure her fans that she remains strong."

'Saddened'

Brown was questioned by police on 8 February over a complaint of assault.

Police said the 19-year-old got into an argument with an unidentified woman in a parked car in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, which escalated after they left the vehicle.

Both Brown and Rihanna pulled out of that night's Grammy awards, where they had been due to perform.

He has since said he was "sorry and saddened" by the incident and was seeking counselling.

Prosecutors have asked police to provide more information before deciding what charges, if any, to pursue against him.

Leak inquiry

On Friday, Rihanna's 21st birthday, a photograph was posted on a US gossip website which purported to show the Barbadian star in the hours after the incident with welts, scratches, bruises and swelling on her face.

After it appeared, the Los Angeles Police Department launched an internal investigation and asked for the public's help in finding the person who leaked it.

A police news release said the image "has the appearance" of one taken during a domestic violence investigation, and classified its release as a case of serious misconduct.

"The Los Angeles Police Department takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence," it added.

Digitally manipulated images of Rihanna with facial injuries have appeared on the internet several times over the last couple of weeks.

In her statement, the singer - whose hits include Pon De Replay and Umbrella - said she was "doing well, and deeply appreciates the outpouring of support she has received during this difficult time".

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