Naji Sabri Hadithi, Iraq's foreign minister under Saddam Hussein, denied Wednesday a report he provided the CIA with information about the deposed regime's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
"The information carried by the American channel NBC are lies, totally fabricated and unfounded," Sabri Hadithi told AFP in a telephone interview, in his first public remarks since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
"After the lies about the weapons of mass destruction which do not exist and the alleged links with Al-Qaeda, it seems that this new lie is aimed at giving a new fake pretext to justify the crime of the century: the invasion of Iraq."
NBC reported on Monday that Sabri Hadithi spied for the CIA and traded information on Saddam's alleged weapons programme in return for a 100,000 dollar payment, in a French-sponsored New York City hotel room meeting.
US intelligence agents believe Sabri Hadithi was fully aware he was selling information to the CIA, the report said.
But Sabri Hadithi rejected the report and described it as a "desperate attempt to undermine the reputation of nationalistic Iraqi leaders who opposed, with honour and courage, the Anglo-American-Zionist scheme to invade Iraq."
He charged that the NBC report follows "the failure of attempts (by the US administration) over the years to convince (Iraqi) civilian or military officials ... to betray their country."
Sabri Hadithi slammed NBC, accusing it of having "published the lies of the American administration to deceive the American people in a bid to promote the colonialist occupation of Iraq."
"A few weeks ago, the American channel asked me, in a way that resembled blackmail, for an interview. I apologised, said I couldn't and refused to receive their correspondent," Sabri Hadithi said.
He said he would be in touch with his lawyers in order to sue NBC.
According to the NBC report, Sabri Hadithi told a CIA middleman that Saddam possessed chemical weapons and wanted a nuclear bomb but needed much more time to build one than the CIA estimate of several months to a year.
He also denied Saddam had any biological weapons.
After the US invasion of March 2003, Sabri Hadithi was not arrested or included in the notorious "deck of cards" of the US military's most wanted Iraqi suspects.
He now teaches journalism in Qatar.