LONDON- A British politician on Tuesday denied offering a 10 million pound ($16 million) reward for the capture of US President Barack Obama, an allegation reported then later retracted by Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper.
Nazir Ahmed, a member of parliament's upper chamber and a long-time member of Britain's opposition Labour party, said he was deliberately misquoted during a recent speech in an effort by political enemies in Pakistan to discredit him.
"I never mentioned Obama and I never mentioned a bounty. I do not support terrorism and would never urge anybody to attack someone or capture someone," Ahmed, who was suspended by the Labour party pending an investigation, told Reuters.
The Express Tribune newspaper, affiliated with the International Herald Tribune - the global edition of the New York Times - on Tuesday said Ahmed did not say the word "bounty" or Obama's name and that its earlier story was incorrect.
Ahmed told Reuters last week that he would be ready to help raise money for the prosecution of former US President George Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for what he considered war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His comments were in response to a US $10 million reward announced earlier this month for help in the arrest of Pakistani Islamist leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who is suspected of masterminding attacks in India but is a free man in Pakistan after being released from house arrest in 2009.
Ahmed, who became
Britain’s first Muslim peer in 1998, had been quoted as saying: “If the US can announce a
reward of $10 million for the capture of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of
£10 million for the capture of President Obama and his predecessor, George W.
The Labor Party
moved swiftly and suspended the peer on Sunday evening.
suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are
accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable,” a
“The international community is rightly doing all in its
power to seek justice for the victims of the Mumbai bombings and halt
terrorism,” the spokesman added.
However, Ahmed, speaking from Pakistan
on Monday, said he had only told the meeting that Bush and former Prime Minister
Tony Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes.
“I never said those
words. I did not offer a bounty. I said that there have been war crimes
committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and those people who have got strong
allegations against them – Bush and Blair have been involved in illegal wars and
should be brought to justice. I do not think there’s anything wrong with that,”
he said, adding that he was equally concerned that anyone suspected of terrorism
should face justice as well.
He challenged the party to produce evidence
Jonny Paul contributed to this report.