French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed yesterday to sue a website that claimed Moammer Gaddafi financed his 2007 presidential election, seeking to spin the charge in the crucial final week before France goes to the polls.
Right-wing incumbent Sarkozy is slowly clawing back points from Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande, whose own presidential bid has been hit by the intrusion of disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn into the campaign. Sarkozy on Monday dismissed as a “crude forgery” a document published by left-wing investigative website Mediapart alleging the former Libyan dictator agreed to give ¤50 million (Rs 350 crore) to Sarkozy’s campaign in 2007.
“We will file a suit against Mediapart... this document is a crude forgery, the two people supposed to have sent and received this document have dismissed it,” said Sarkozy.
Sarkozy and his supporters believe that he is relentlessly targeted by “biased” left-wing media, while the incumbent has repeatedly sought to portray himself as a victim.
“There’s a section of the press, of the media, and notably the site in question whose name I refuse to mention, that is prepared to fake documents, shame on those who have exploited them,” Sarkozy said. Claims that Gaddafi financed Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign are not new, but Mediapart’s document bearing the signature of Libya’s former foreign intelligence chief Moussa Koussa is.
The report in question
The letter, written in Arabic and dated December 2006, said Tripoli had agreed to “support the electoral campaign” of Sarkozy. It said an agreement on “the amount and method of payment” had been reached at a meeting two months earlier involving Brice Hortefeux, a close ally of Sarkozy and then minister for local government. The meeting on October 6 2006 was said to have been attended by Gaddafi’s spy chief, Abdullah Senussi; the head of Tripoli’s African investment fund, Bashir Saleh and the Franco-Lebanese arms broker and businessman Ziad Takieddine. Saleh issued a statement saying no such document had been sent to him and he had reservations about its authenticity.