A British civil servant has been charged under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that, according to a newspaper report Tuesday, reveals that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded US President George W. Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.
According to the Daily Mirror, Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16 last year. The US government has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.
Blair's Downing Street office declined to comment on the report, stressing it never discussed leaked documents.
Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh is accused of passing the memo to Leo O'Connor, who formerly worked for former British lawmaker Tony Clarke. Both Keogh and O'Connor are scheduled to appear at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court next week.
According to the newspaper, Clarke returned the memo to Blair's office. Clarke could not immediately be contacted for comment on Tuesday.
In April 2003, an Al-Jazeera journalist died when its Baghdad office was struck during a US bombing campaign. Nabil Khoury, a US State Department spokesman in Doha, said the strike was a mistake
In November 2002, Al-Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a US missile. None of the crew was at the office at the time. US officials said they believed the target was a terrorist site and did not know it was Al-Jazeera's office.
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