Lawyer: Libyan ex-PM claims Sarkozy funding

Associated Press Modified: May 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm •  Published: May 3, 2012
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The lawyer said he discussed the funding claims with his client during a visit to see him in jail a few months ago.

The lawyer recounted Mahmoudi's comments as follows: "Mr. Mahmoudi was pained and perplexed to see Mr. Sarkozy turn against the Libyan regime, and to be the instigator of the NATO offensive against his country, while, he said, 'we helped and contributed to his success.'"

Sarkozy sued Mediapart for alleged "forgery" and "publication of false news." Mediapart says it stands by its reporting and filed a countersuit accusing Sarkozy of slander.

Sarkozy reached out to Gadhafi's regime early in his presidency, saying he wanted to repair Libya's relations with the international community.

Then when Gadhafi's forces cracked down on the opposition amid the Arab Spring uprisings last year, Sarkozy became one of Gadhafi's strongest critics. Sarkozy led an international push for airstrikes to force Gadhafi from power. Gadhafi was later killed.

Sarkozy faced yet another embarrassment involving Libya this week: He acknowledged that Gadhafi's former chief of staff, Bashir Saleh, is living in France with the government's permission despite facing U.S. sanctions and being wanted by Interpol.

Mediapart suggested Sarkozy allowed Saleh refuge because of past favors. Sarkozy denied that, saying Saleh went to France after consultations with Libyan authorities because his family is in France.

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Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.