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Saddam's FM was on CIA payroll

Iraq's foreign minister under Saddam spied for the CIA before the US-led invasion in return for a $100,000.
None | By Press Trust of India, Washington
UPDATED ON MAR 22, 2006 03:06 AM IST

Iraq's foreign minister under Saddam Hussein spied for the CIA before the US-led invasion in 2003 in return for a $100,000 payment, a US television network reported.

In September 2002, Iraq's top diplomat Naji Sabri traded information on Hussein's alleged weapons programme for cash in a French-sponsored meeting at a New York hotel room, NBC reported, citing intelligence sources.

US intelligence agents believe Sabri was fully aware he was selling information to the CIA, it said.

During the cloak-and-dagger meeting, Sabri told the CIA's middleman that Saddam possessed chemical weapons and wanted a nuclear bomb, but needed much more time to build one than the CIA estimate of several months to a year.

He also denied Saddam had any biological weapons.

Sabri's tips were thought to be more accurate than the CIA's own intelligence on Saddam's arsenal, NBC said.

However, the foreign minister broke off his contacts weeks later after he repeatedly resisted CIA pressures to defect to the United States and publicly renounce Saddam, the sources told NBC.

After the US invasion of March 2003, Sabri was not arrested or included in the notorious "deck of cards" of the US military's most wanted Iraqi suspects.

Sabri, who now teaches journalism in Qatar, has turned down repeated requests for comments, NBC said.

Saddam's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs were revealed to be non-existent after the war.

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