The Monitor Group: Gaddafi’s PR firm used academics

(Guardian) – Revelations about a campaign launched by a consultancy firm in Massachusetts to improve the public image of Muammar Gaddafi around the world have highlighted the ethical problems. The Monitor Group, a 1,500-strong firm of consultants with 29 worldwide offices, apologised for mistakes it had made in the course of a PR campaign it ran on behalf of the Libyan leader between 2006 and 2008. The campaign, believed to be worth about $3m, focused on paying for top academic figures to travel to Tripoli for personal conversations with Gaddafi.

They included the Stanford University scholar Francis Fukuyama, Harvard’s Joseph Nye and Robert Putnam, and Benjamin Barber, formerly of Rutgers University.

Billionaire US financier George Soros apologised for having advised the remowned London School of Economics (LSE) to take Libyan money. Soros studied at LSE as an undergraduate, and had advised the school that it was acceptable to receive the contribution from Gaddafi’s son, Saif, on the grounds that he appeared at the time to be a believer in open society and claimed to be working to move Libya in that direction. A spokesman for Soros said he had come to see that his advice was “a mistake in judgment, which he now greatly regrets”.

Libya documents: ‘A programme to enhance the international reputation of Libya’ A US-based consultancy, Monitor Group, was engaged by the Libyan regime to improve its reputation in the west. This document outlines the proposal in a letter to a senior Libyan intelligence chief, Abd Allah al-Sanusi.  

Libya Unrest Holds Threat of Economic Toll for Italy

(New York Times) – Since 2004, when the United Nations lifted a trade embargo that was imposed after Libya’s 1986 bombing of a German disco, Italy has been the European Union’s top arms exporter to Libya, according to union data. Its politically influential energy company, Eni, has tens of billions of dollars invested in Libya. Italy is also Libya’s largest trading partner, and Italian companies are building a coastal highway and have contracts in construction, railways and fiber optics.

Losing that would take “an enormous economic toll,” said Andrea Nativi, the editor in chief of Rivista Italiana Difesa, Italy’s leading defense publication.

The ties go both ways. Libya, through the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Central Bank, has a 7.6 percent stake in the Italian bank UniCredit, and the central bank’s governor, Farhat Bengdara, sits on UniCredit’s board.

Libyan and Italian Tangled Assets

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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