- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

From combined dispatches
LONDON The British Labor Party began an investigation yesterday of a member of Parliament after reports that he received payments of nearly $600,000 a year from Saddam Hussein's regime through the U.N. oil-for-food program.
The London Daily Telegraph reported that the payments were made to George Galloway, one of Parliament's most outspoken opponents of the war in Iraq.
Mr. Galloway yesterday called the Telegraph report a "smear campaign."
"I have never solicited nor received money from Iraq for our campaign against war and sanctions," he said in a statement. He later said he had begun legal proceedings against the newspaper.
Labor Party Chairman Ian McCartney said the party would investigate the "extremely serious" charges. He declined to elaborate.
The Daily Telegraph said its correspondent in Baghdad, David Blair, had seen a memo to Saddam from the Iraqi intelligence service saying that Mr. Galloway had asked for a larger cut of Iraq's exports under the oil-for-food program.
A January 2000 memo, which the Telegraph published on its Web site (www.telegraph.co.uk) in the original Arabic accompanied by an English translation, said Mr. Galloway received between 10 and 15 cents from each of 6 million barrels of Iraqi oil a year.
Under U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq was allowed to sell some oil to buy humanitarian supplies.
The newspaper reported that the memo said Mr. Galloway had also entered into partnership with an Iraqi broker to sell oil on the international market.
The Telegraph, which devoted five pages to the story yesterday, said the memo was signed by the Iraqi intelligence chief, although its report noted that the signature was illegible.
The newspaper said its reporter found the document and other files in Baghdad's looted Foreign Ministry.
"We are completely confident. This is very straightforward, enterprising journalism," Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore told Channel 4 television news.
Mr. Galloway leads an antisanctions charity, the Mariam Appeal, and has traveled to Baghdad several times to deliver aid.
The Mariam Appeal was set up in 1998 to raise funds for medical treatment for an Iraqi girl suffering from leukemia.
Mr. Galloway said the charity was funded largely by the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and by Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat.
Mr. Zureikat told the Associated Press in Amman, Jordan, that he was a donor, coordinator and supporter of the Mariam Appeal and that the document in the Telegraph report was fabricated.
Mr. Galloway has been one of the most outspoken critics of the war against Iraq and has been lambasted by parts of the British press for his tireless opposition to military action.
The Scottish lawmaker has been dubbed "MP for Baghdad Central" and has been harshly criticized by fellow members of Parliament for calling Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush "wolves" for attacking Iraq.
He met Saddam in Baghdad last year.
In the papers, Iraqi intelligence stress the need for secrecy about Mr. Galloway's purported business links with the regime, the newspaper said.
One memo says that payments to him must be made under "commercial cover."
But the papers say that, behind the scenes, Mr. Galloway was conducting a relationship with Iraqi intelligence.
Among documents found in the foreign ministry was a memorandum from the chief of the Mukhabarat secret police marked "Confidential and Personal."
It purported to outline talks between Mr. Galloway and an Iraqi spy. During the meeting Dec. 26, 1999, Mr. Galloway reportedly detailed his campaign plans for the year ahead.
The spy chief wrote that Mr. Galloway told the Mukhabarat agent: "[Galloway] needs continuous financial support from Iraq.
"He obtained through [Deputy Prime Minister] Tariq Aziz three million barrels of oil every six months, according to the oil for food program. His share would be only between 10 and 15 cents per barrel."
Iraq's oil sales, administered by the United Nations, were intended to pay for only essential humanitarian supplies. If the memo is accurate, Mr Galloway's share would have amounted to about $591,000 per year.



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