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Sarkozy vows to sue over Gadhafi donation accusation

The website Mediapart has published a document which allegedly shows that the Gadhafi regime sought to finance French President Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. Sarkozy has called the document a fake.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed on Monday to sue a website for publishing a document, which allegedly shows that Moammar Gadhafi's regime sought to make a large campaign contribution to Sarkozy during France's 2007 election.

The website Mediapart published a 2006 letter in which Libya's former secret services supposedly discussed "an agreement in principle" to pay 50 million euros ($66 million) to Sarkozy's presidential campaign.

President Sarkozy, head of the conservative UMP party, called the document a fake and said that he was being targeted by a "biased" left-wing media.

"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," Sarkozy told France 2 television.

Authenticity disputed

Although the allegations are not new, the Mediapart document supposedly bears the signature of Gadhafi's former intelligence chief Moussa Koussa. The letter is addressed to Bashir Saleh, Gadhafi's ex chief of staff and former head of Libya's $40 billion (30.2 billion euro) sovereign wealth fund.

Saleh's lawyer has expressed "grave reservations" about the document while Koussa, who lives in Qatar, said: "All these allegations are false."

Francois Bonnet, the editorial director for Mediapart, rejected the accusations that document was a forgery.

"It's simply grotesque and defamatory," he said.

The allegations against Sarkozy were first leveled by one of Gadhafi's sons as France pushed for the international community to intervene in Libya.

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa reads a statement to foreign journalists at a hotel in in Tripoli

Koussa says the allegations are 'false'

France, under Sarkozy's leadership, played a lead role in the 2011 NATO air campaign that helped Libyan rebels topple Col. Moammar Gadhafi from power. Paris helped draft the UN resolution that led to the intervention, and French warplanes were the first to engage Gadhafi's forces.

Run-off looming

The document comes as Sarkozy prepares to face off with his challenger, socialist Francois Hollande, in a television debate on Wednesday. The second round of the election is to be held on Sunday, with the latest polls putting Hollande at 53 percent and Sarkozy at 47 percent.

Hollande countered Sarkozy's claim that Mediapart had a left-wing bias while saying that the courts would intervene if the document was forged.

"The website has already taken on left-wing personalities, it is staffed by well-known journalists," Hollande said. "The justice system must address this… if it's a fake the site will be convicted."

slk/ccp (AP, AFP, Reuters)