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UK politician denies bounty offer for Obama

April 17, 2012 15:17

Newspaper retracts story that Lord Nazir Ahmed offered a £10m. bounty for capture of the current and former US presidents.

Britain's Lord Nazir Ahmed

Lord Nazir Ahmed 370. (photo credit:Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters)

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.

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"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. Bush.”

The Labor Party moved swiftly and suspended the peer on Sunday evening.

“We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable,” a spokesman said.

“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 against him.

Jonny Paul contributed to this report.
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