The Hizbullah-run Al-Manar news agency reported Saturday that recent reports stating the organization's secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, escaped a poisoning attempt on his life were false.
Al-Manar aired an interview with Nasrallah via its internet website, in which the Hizbullah leader denied the rumors, though he confirmed that he was indeed ill.
"Unfortunately a number of local and Arab news agencies have contributed to the spread of these rumors," Nasrallah said. He was referring in part to an Iraqi news site that claimed he had been poisoned with a highly toxic chemical substance, basing its report on "high-ranking diplomatic sources in Beirut".
The report said Nasrallah's life hung in the balance, and that an Iranian medical team comprised of 15 doctors had to be flown into Lebanon in order to treat him. It added that he had become seriously ill. "Western diplomatic sources" postulated that Israel was behind the poisoning, the report said.
In the interview with Al-Manar Nasrallah explained that "if research was done on the internet websites posting such unfounded information, it would reveal that they are all being run from that same dark room, and that their aim is to serve American-Israeli interests."
He added that at first the organization had considered denying the false information with a written message, "but when the news agencies began to publish it we decided to hold a televised interview, and here I am before you telling you I was not poisoned."