London A civil servant has been charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.
The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.
The Daily Mirror attributed its information to unidentified sources. One source, said to be in the government, was quoted as saying that the alleged threat was "humorous, not serious," but the newspaper quoted another source as saying that "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair."
Blair's office declined to comment on the report, stressing it never discusses leaked documents.
In Qatar, Al-Jazeera said it was aware of the report, but did not wish to comment.
The White House said it wouldn't dignify what it called "something so outlandish" with a response.
The document was described as a transcript of a conversation between the two leaders.
Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh is accused of passing it to Leo O'Connor, who formerly worked for former British lawmaker Tony Clarke. Both Keogh and O'Connor are scheduled to appear at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court next week.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, Keogh was charged with an offense under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act relating to "a damaging disclosure" by a servant of the Crown of information relating to international relations or information obtained from a state other than the United Kingdom.
O'Connor was charged under Section 5, which relates to receiving and disclosing illegally disclosed information.