Alleged payment to Al Sahaf sparks controversy

Iraq’s former minister of information, Mohammad Said Al Sahaf, who rose to stardom throughout the Iraq war, received US $200,000 from the Dubai based Al Arabiya channel in return for granting an interview, reported Asharq Al Awsat (July 1).

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  July 1, 2003

Iraq’s former minister of information, Mohammad Said Al Sahaf, who rose to stardom throughout the Iraq war, received US $200,000 from the Dubai based Al Arabiya channel in return for granting an interview, reported Asharq Al Awsat (July 1).

The paper quoted the Gulf News Agency as saying that Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Baghdad, Saed Al Husni said Al Sahaf held on to the taped interview until he received confirmation from his son that Al Arabiya had deposited the money in a bank account in the UAE.

However, Ali Al Hudaithi, general manager of Al Arabiya in the UAE, denied the allegations and told Asharq Al Awsat that the news channel did not pay Al Sahaf anything and that Al Husni was not a correspondent for Al Arabiya but a correspondent for MBC’s English channel 2.

The newspaper also reported that an unnamed source as saying that Abu Dhabi TV also paid Al Sahaf an undisclosed amount to Al Sahaf in return for an interview.

Both Al Arabiya and Abu Dhabi TV aired their interviews last week.

Al Sahaf gained popularity during the war. Dubbed comical Ali, Al Sahaf, who briefed journalists at the Palestine Hotel, denied American troops had entered Baghdad, when US tanks could be seen within

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Al Sahaf said, that through a friend who acted as an intermediary he went to the Americans...and was interrogated about a number of issues and was subsequently released.

Commenting on the fall of Baghdad, Al Sahaf told Al Arabiya, “A difficult situation has passed by, not for one person but for everyone.”

Al Sahaf said he would stay in Iraq with his family and write a book about the war.

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