Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had denied claims its ambassador to London, Saleh al-Tamimi, is under police investigation over a large amount of cash found in the UK embassy. The ministry said it could take legal action against the news agency that published the allegations, Rudaw reported.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ahmed Mahjoub, spokesperson for Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the news agency behind the story is known for its “tactics” and “fabrications”.
He accused it of spreading “misrepresentations that offend the Foreign Ministry and target the ambassadors and representatives of Iraq in our diplomatic missions”.
“The targeting of some ambassadors on multiple and fictitious charges these days comes within the politicized attempts to undermine these achievements, including what was published by a person of the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq in London through fabricated and totally untrue news, one of which claimed that the British police are investigating Ambassador Saleh al-Tamimi for the presence of funds in the embassy,” Mahjoub said.
“In this regard, we would like to announce that this news is totally and in all its details untrue and the ministry reserves the right to pursue these websites with legal means,” he added.
The allegations emerged on July 26 when the Iraq-based news agency SNG published the story, citing a source from inside the embassy.
“The SNG agency has learned that British police are conducting an investigation against the Iraqi ambassador to Britain, Salah al-Tamimi, in a financial case where cash surpassing £5 million ($6.5 million) was confiscated in the Iraqi embassy in the center of London, put in bags stamped with diplomatic seals,” reads an article on the website of the Iraq-based news agency SNG, dated July 26.
Two days later, the Iraqi embassy in London issued a statement denying the allegations, vowing to take legal action against the agency.
“In a news [item] far from the truth published by the SNG agency on the internet, targeting his Excellency the Republic of Iraq’s ambassador in London, the Republic of Iraq’s embassy in the United Kingdom stresses that this news is a fabrication and totally untrue,” reads a statement from Iraq’s embassy to London on July 28, published on Facebook.
The embassy said it considers the allegations defamatory – against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the embassy, and the ambassador himself – and that the “rumors, and lying, and inaccurate information” should be ignored.
“The embassy reserves the right to undertake legal measures and to take the party that published or propagated for untrue and fabricated news to court,” the embassy added.
SNG responded to the embassy’s statement defending its story.
“In this regard, SNG reiterates that it obtained precise information from within the embassy confirming the authenticity of the news it published,” the agency said in its reply, published on its website.
London’s Metropolitan Police has not issued a statement on the matter.
SNG describes itself online as an “independent Iraqi agency in its discourse and funding”. Its goal is to transmit news “with total neutrality, insulated from sectarianism, or ethnic, racial, religious or sectarian bias,” it says.
Iraq suffers from endemic corruption. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to hold corrupt officials to account.