Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Sarkozy hit by new claims that funding came from Qaddafi

CAMPAIGN TACTICS:A confidential note suggests the former Libyan leader helped finance the French leader’s 2007 presidential election campaign

The Guardian, PARIS

Damaging new claims have emerged about the funding of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and his links with former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi emerged.

The French Web site Mediapart claims to have seen a confidential note suggesting Qaddafi contributed up to 50 million euro (US$65.7 million) to Sarkozy’s election fund five years ago.

Similar allegations emerged a year ago when Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam claimed Libya helped finance the 2007 campaign and demanded the French president, who led the war on the Libyan leader, return the money.

In an interview with the Euronews TV channel, Saif al-Islam, who is being held in Libya after his father’s defeat and death, threatened to make details of the bank transfers public after the French leader threw his weight behind opposition forces.

The latest allegations come at a crucial time for Sarkozy, who is seeking a second term in office.

Mediapart journalist Fabrice Arfi told the Guardian he had seen leaked documents contained in the legal dossier of the affair, currently under investigation by a judge.

“We knew these documents existed but it is the first time we have had the details of what was in them,” he said. “And there are lots of details, including dates, places and amounts.”

One document, a government briefing note, allegedly points to visits to Libya by Sarkozy and his close colleagues and advisers, which it says were aimed at securing campaign funding.

Shortly after Sarkozy’s election, Muammar Qaddafi was invited to Paris and allowed to pitch his bedouin tent in the grounds of an official French residence close to the Elysee Palace. He was described as the “Brother Leader” by the French.

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