Britons bailed on Iraq memo charges

Jan. 24, 2006 at 12:48 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Two Britons accused of leaking a government memo relating to an alleged U.S. plan to bomb the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera were freed on bail Tuesday.

Cabinet Office communications officer David Keogh, 49, and Leo O'Connor, 42, a parliamentary researcher, appeared in court to face charges under the Official Secrets Act.

The memo, leaked to the Mirror newspaper, reportedly contained details of a conversation between U.S. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during which the former discussed the possibility of bombing Al Jazeera's offices in Qatar and elsewhere.

The White House has previously dismissed the claims as "outlandish."

According to the Mirror report, Blair talked Bush out of the attack, which he said would cause enormous international difficulties.

The document raised fresh doubts over U.S. claims that previous attacks on Al Jazeera offices in Iraq were military errors.

However the transcript has never been published in full as the British attorney general immediately threatened newspaper editors with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if they attempted to do so.

Keogh is accused of passing the document to O'Connor in 2004, who at that time worked for then Labor member of Parliament Anthony Clarke.

He is charged under the Officials Secrets Act with making a "damaging disclosure" of a document related to international relations.

O'Connor is charged under the act with receiving a document without lawful authority.

The men are to return to court on April 25.

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