French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election campaign could be falling apart as two French magazines have reported damning allegations about his relationship to former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The French weekly magazine Les Inrockuptibles is planning to publish “confidential documents” on Wednesday that show Gaddafi and Sarkozy reached a secret deal to trade nuclear cooperation for the release of foreign medics, according to Al-Akhbar English.
In 2007 French intervention led to five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor being released after they were jailed eight years on charges of infecting children with the AIDs virus.
Although Sarkozy’s cabinet said there had been no “trade-offs” in ensuring their release, Les Inrockuptibles cites a July 23, 2007, diplomatic cable from France’s then-envoy to Tripoli that indicates France’s willingness to sign arms contracts and a nuclear cooperation accord “only if the nurses and doctor are freed.”
As if that bombshell wasn’t bad enough, on Friday night the French news site Mediapart reported that Gaddafi gave $66 million to Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and laundered the massive donation through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland.
Senior members of the Libya’s National Transitional Council are said to have provided Mediapart with a document, written in Arabic and signed by Gaddafi’s intelligence chief Mussa Kussa in 2006, that refers to an ‘agreement in principle to support the campaign for the candidate for the presidential elections, Nicolas Sarkozy, for a sum equivalent to €50 million‘.
French law bans candidates from receiving cash payments above approximately $16,000.
This isn’t the first time that Qaddafi’s has been linked to Sarkozy’s campaign financing. Similar allegations were made last year by Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who threatened to publish details of bank transfers that allegedly showed Libya’s donations to Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.
Whatever the truth of the allegations, it can’t be said that Sarkozy (like many Western leaders) was enjoying a close relationship with Qaddafi at this point. Shortly after Sarkozy’s 2007 victory, Qaddafi visited Paris and pitched his bedouin tent close to the Elysée Palace as Sarkozy described him as “Brother Leader.”
Sarkozy cannot be prosecuted while in office as France’s head of state, but a loss in Sunday’s run off could be followed by a full investigation into his funding. Sarkozy, for his part, is planning to sue Mediapart for what he says is “crude forgery”, the BBC reports.
He currently trails his Socialist rival Francois Hollande by up to 10 per cent in opinion polls.
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