French paper asserts officials know more about Arafat's death than told
French newspaper Le Figaro carried a piece today, citing an unnamed official, that asserts details of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's 2004 death have been concealed.
French newspaper Le Figaro, citing an unnamed member of the French secret service, today said authorities know more of the causes of Yasser Arafat’s 2004 death at a French military hospital than they have publicly released.Skip to next paragraph
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The story follows a series of Al Jazeera reports this week that high levels of polonium-210, a difficult to manufacture radioactive isotope, were found in Arafat’s personal effects. The report reopened a long and emotional controversy over whether the Palestinian leader died by foul play – one bringing great debate in France at the time.
Today’s Figaro story, “France knows but will remain silent,” by journalist Georges Malbrunot, discusses medical analysis of Arafat by French doctors from the time of his death that has never been released in full. The Figaro piece wasn't clear on whether he's referring to the over 500 page medical analysis produced and acknowledged at the time, or some other document. The main French report was not released at the time of his death at the request of his widow Suha Arafat, though parts of the report, which determined he died of natural causes, have leaked out over the years.
The unnamed French secret service official said "the medical dossier of Arafat has been classified somewhere in France but nobody will talk," and alleges “the medical causes were ignored” when Arafat died on Nov. 11, 2004 after being evacuated from his besieged Ramallah compound.
French doctors in 2004 did not test for radioactivity – the assassination of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko by polonium was not until 2006. “All the samplings and the analysis on Arafat were never made public by French doctors,” the French source told Mr. Malbrunot, well-known in France after surviving a hostage taking in Iraq in 2004.
Al Jazeera cites a Swiss expert who examined Arafat’s personal effects, including toothbrushes, headgear, and articles of clothing containing traces of body fluid, who found levels of the radioactive substance were nine times higher than the control sample. "I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids," said François Bochud, director of the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland.
A determinative answer is likely to come from an examination of the body, medical experts say. Suha Arafat opposed an autopsy at the time of his death. She says she would welcome one now and Palestinian Authority officials this week approved an exhumation of the former national leader.