Ex-New York Legislator Hired To Improve Libya’s Public Image
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former New York Rep. John M. Murphy, who served almost two years in prison after being convicted of taking an illegal gratuity in the Abscam sting, has a new job - trying to improve Libya’s public image.
Murphy, a Democrat who served nine terms, registered last month with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
He was paid $200,000 by Hassan Tatanaki, who lives in Cairo, Egypt, according to the forms. No other information on Tatanaki was given.
But a State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. government was ″aware of″ Tatanaki.
″I’m told he’s well-connected in the Libyan government,″ the spokeswoman said, speaking on condition her name not be used. She described Tatanaki as Libyan-born and as quite wealthy but could provide no other details.
Murphy did not return messages left at his New York office.
In his filing, Murphy said he planned to meet with members of Congress and the administration in an effort to ″normalize relations″ between the United States and Libya.
He said he also planned to arrange visits to Libya by U.S. officials and news organizations. The proposed visits ″will have the cooperation of the Libyan government,″ according to the documents.
He also said he planned to mount a public relations campaign ″to portray the image of Libya and its administration in a most favorable view.″
David R. Bowen, a former Democratic congressman from Mississippi, and Albert Grasselli, a public relations consultant, have agreed to work with Murphy, according to the documents. The three formed a company called GBM Consultancy Ltd., based in the Cayman Islands, according to the documents.
Grasselli, of McLean, Va., did not return a phone call. But Bowen, who runs a Washington-based Middle East policy group, said the he and Grasselli will be ″available to give advice.″
″I’m not involved in any active way,″ Bowen said Monday, adding that he wasn’t being paid.
Bowen said Tatanaki has large business investments in Libya and throughout the Persian Gulf region.
″He believes his business investments would be enhanced″ by Murphy’s lobbying. Bowen said Murphy’s first goal will be to try to persuade Libya to turn over the two men who have been indicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
″The logjam is not going to be broken until they turn those guys over to trial,″ Bowen said. ″Right now, not a whole lot is happening.″
Libya has been under U.S. economic sanctions since 1986. They are aimed at hindering the Libyan government’s ability to finance and promote terrorism.
Murphy was released from prison in 1985 after serving 20 months for his role in the FBI’s Abscam probe. He was convicted in December 1980 of conspiracy and accepting an unlawful gratuity from FBI agents posing as wealthy Arabs.
Murphy ran for re-election in 1980, despite being under indictment. He lost to Republican Guy Molinari, now the Staten Island borough president.
Five other congressmen and one senator were convicted in the Abscam sting, in which FBI agents used hidden microphones and video cameras to record government officials discussing bribes for political favors.