Sunday Herald - 27 April 2003
Galloway: I'm the victim of Blair's revenge
Exclusive: 'It's clear that the war party -- the UK and the US -- want to silence opponents'
By James Cusick, Westminster Editor
George Galloway claims he has been set up by the British and US governments to 'exact revenge' for his high-profile anti-war campaigning over the invasion of Iraq.
In an exclusive interview yesterday with the Sunday Herald, Galloway said: 'What is clear is that the war party, meaning both the US and UK, are determined to exact revenge and to silence the remaining opponents they have for what they have done.'
As evidence of their desire to punish their political opponents, Galloway cited US Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement last week that France would face 'consequences' because of its opposition to the US-led war in Iraq.
Galloway believes his leadership role in both the mass demonstrations that saw two million protesters take to the streets and the largest parliamentary revolt in Commons history left him a clear target.
He remains unrepentant for the position he finds himself in: 'I'm obviously hurt and bruised -- but I'm convinced of the political positions I've taken. '
Galloway is this weekend preparing with his lawyers a suit against the Boston-based newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, which last week alleged documents had been discovered by an Iraqi general in Baghdad stating that the Glasgow MP had been paid $10m (£6.25m) by Saddam Hussein's government. The payments were claimed to go back to 1992, the last being this year.
The US claims follow accusations made in The Daily Telegraph, also based on documents found in Baghdad, that Galloway had been paid £375,000 by Saddam's regime for pro-Iraqi campaigning work. It was claimed Galloway was paid indirectly through oil-for-food funding.
Galloway said he was now convinced the documents found were forgeries and that he is the subject of a systematic smear campaign. He said: 'Who did what and who forged what I'm not yet in a position to know and may never be.'
Recent reports revealed that Tony Blair and some Cabinet members were preparing to resign if the vote in the Commons in the run-up to war had gone against the government.
Defence secretary Geoff Hoon also said he had informed his US counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, of the political significance of the parliamentary vote. According to reports, the US were made aware of the gamble Blair was taking .
Galloway said that smear tactics had been used against outspoken critics before: 'Arthur Scargill was systematically smeared for years over a story that his mortgage had been paid by Libya during the time his members [of the NUM] were out on strike. The story later turned out to be false.'
He added that forged documents had also been used to justify the war against Iraq, most notably the publication of false invoices said to be part of a plan to import uranium from Niger into Iraq. The UN is currently investigating the now discredited claims.
Galloway said the origin of the documents that refer to him was so far impossible to verify and that it was unlikely British intelligence agencies had any direct involvement, instead pointing the finger at the US, the Iraqi National Congress and Israeli intelligence.