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Menem Denies He Was Bribed to Cover Up Iranian Attack

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem is rejecting a report in a U.S. newspaper that he was paid $10 million to cover up Iran's connection to a terror attack at a Jewish center in Argentina. Argentina's current government is distancing itself from the story.

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem is fighting back after allegations published on the front page of Monday's New York Times said he was paid to cover up Iran's involvement in the worst terror attack in Argentina's history. The Times quoted from transcripts of a deposition given by a former Iranian intelligence officer to Argentine authorities.

Mr. Menem called the story slanderous, and the Iranian government denied any involvement in the bombing. A government spokesman in Tehran called the Times' report "journalistic fantasy."

The Iranian intelligence agent was quoted by the Times as telling Argentine authorities that Iran was behind the planning and execution of the 1994 bombing of an Argentine Jewish center that killed 85 people. The Iranian intelligence officer who, the Times said, gave his name as Abdolghassem Mesbahi, was also quoted as saying the Iranians paid Mr. Menem $10 million to block the investigation.

Mr. Menem is running again for president of Argentina, with primary elections coming up in December.

He accused the government of current President Eduardo Duhalde of leaking the deposition to the public to hurt his chances. But government chief Alfredo Atanasof dismissed Mr. Menem's claims as politics. He said the ex-president is campaigning and the government does comment on what the candidates say.

The government says investigation has been under way for eight years, but so far no progress has been made and no prime suspects have been named. A trial of several accessories stared nine months ago, but a verdict is not expected anytime soon.