French government stalls Interpol call for arrest of Gaddafi funding chief

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Prime Minister François Fillon were under increasing pressure Tuesday to explain the extraordinary protection they have afforded to a former senior Libyan official, Bashir Saleh, identified in a document published by Mediapart as a principal figure involved in the secret funding of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign by the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Saleh is the subject of an Interpol request for his arrest for extradition to Libya where he is wanted on fraud charges. Despite the Interpol ‘red notice', Saleh continues to live comfortably in France where he was issued with a residency permit after fleeing Libya following the toppling of the Gaddafi regime. Sarkozy claims there is confusion over the identity of the fugitive, while Fillon said he was unaware of the Interpol notice, which is posted to the general public on its website. Louise Fessard and Carine Fouteau report.

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Prime Minister François Fillon were under increasing pressure Tuesday to explain the extraordinary protection they have afforded to a former senior Libyan official identified in a document published by Mediapart as a principal figure involved in the secret funding of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign by the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.