LONDON, UK – French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to file a complaint against a website that claimed long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi offered to finance his 2007 election campaign, a week before he faces Socialist François Hollande in an election run-off for the presidency.
On Saturday the investigative journalism website Mediapart published a 2006 document signed by former Libyan intelligence chief Moussa Koussa and offering to put up nearly $66 million worth of funding.
Appearing on France 2 TV on Monday, Sarkozy promised to “file a suit against Mediapart” before the end of his campaign, adding: “this document is a crude forgery, the two people supposed to have sent and received this document have dismissed it,” a reference to Koussa’s denunciation of the document as a fake, the BBC reports.
“Do you think that with all that I’d done to Mr Gaddafi, he’d have made me a bank transfer? Why not a signed cheque?” the president asked.
More from GlobalPost: Gaddafi offered Sarkozy $66 million to finance his 2007 campaign - report
According to the Agence France Presse, Sarkozy went on to link the publication of the document with Sunday’s election run-off with Hollande – which the incumbent is likely to lose – and portrayed himself as a victim of “biased” left-wing media:
“There’s a section of the press, of the media, and notable the site in question whose name I refuse to mention, that is prepared to fake documents: shame on those who have exploited them,” he said.
François Bonnet, Mediapart’s editorial director, rejected Sarkozy’s threat to take legal action and called the president’s allegations of a smear campaign and forged documents “simply grotesque and defamatory,” according to The Daily Telegraph.
For his part, Hollande, who is currently ahead of Sarkozy in polling ahead of the May 6 run-off, defended the website against accusations of bias:
“If it’s a fake, well, the site will be condemned. If it is not a fake, then there will be some explaining to do,” he said.
Hollande’s team have been seeking to play down the apparent re-emergence of disgraced ex-International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who attended a Socialist lawmaker’s birthday celebrations in Paris over the weekend at which several senior party members were present.
More from GlobalPost: Sarkozy rejects Gaddafi financing charges; campaign claims journalists paid by Socialist rivals