Italy:director of intelligence agency to be questioned on claim of Iraq uranium deal

The head of Italy's military secret services will be questioned by a parliamentary commission on Nov. 3 over allegations that his organization gave the United States and Britain disputed documents suggesting that Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Africa, officials said Tuesday.

Nicolo Pollari, director of the SISMI intelligence agency, will be questioned by members of the commission overseeing secret services, said Micaela Panella, a commission spokeswoman.

She said Pollari asked to be questioned after reports Monday and Tuesday in the Rome daily La Repubblica claiming SISMI passed on to the CIA, U.S. government officials and Britain's MI6 intelligence services a dossier it knew was forged.

The United States and Britain used the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from the west African state to bolster the case for war. Some of the intelligence supporting the claim was later deemed unreliable and the political fight that ensued is now at the center of an investigation into the disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA officer.

The Italian government has repeatedly denied reports that SISMI passed on documents about the Niger affair, the AP reports.

Pollari's hearing will not be open to the public but the commission's president, Enzo Bianco, is expected to brief reporters after the meeting, Panella said. A.M.

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