OSLO - The United States believed in 2009 that Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam was taking part of the output of an oil field run by France's Total, according to a diplomatic cable seen by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

The cable from the US embassy in Tripoli -- part of a leaked cache made available to Aftenposten by the Wikileaks site -- said the Libyan leader's son had regularly siphoned off oil produced by Total and its German partner Wintershall in the offshore al Jurf field.

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"The embassy could not determine whether Saif's tapping of oil affected the Libyan state's share or whether it came at the expense of the foreign companies," Aftenposten reported on Thursday.


Total officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Saif al-Islam has been a vocal defender of his father's regime during the upheaval of recent weeks.

Aftenposten did not publish a facsimile of the actual cable, which it said was dated June 4, 2009, and written by the US ambassador to Libya at the time, Gene Cretz.

Quoting from the document, the newspaper said embassy officials believed Gaddafi's son had sold the al Jurf oil "to finance his various activities."

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