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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 04:29 GMT 05:29 UK
JFK's press secretary dies at 79
Salinger and JFK
Pierre Salinger (centre) with President Kennedy in 1961
Pierre Salinger, John F Kennedy's former press secretary, has died of a heart attack aged 79.

His fourth wife, Nicole, confirmed he died on Saturday at a hospital near their home in Le Thor, France.

Mr Salinger had been a top journalist and author and was also President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary.

In later years he claimed the Pan Am Flight 103 crash over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 was a bungled Drug Enforcement Agency operation.

He also claimed TWA Flight 800 was shot down near Long Island by a stray US Navy missile in 1996.

Iran scoop

Mr Salinger was the chief foreign correspondent for ABC News, having risen from a newspaper reporter in San Francisco to a top position at the White House before he was 40.

Pierre Salinger
Latterly Mr Salinger became something of a conspiracy theorist
After leaving the White House Mr Salinger returned to journalism.

He won a number of prestigious journalism prizes, including a George Polk award for his 1981 scoop that the US government was secretly negotiating to free the Americans held hostage by Iran.

'If Bush wins, I leave'

His wife said he moved to France four years ago because he was upset with the American electoral system.

She said: "Pierre said 'If George Bush is elected president, I will leave the country,' and we did."

Mr Salinger worked for both John and Robert Kennedy on their presidential campaigns, and for George McGovern in 1972.

He was White House press secretary from 1961 to 1964 and ran the first live televised presidential news conference in 1961.

Born in San Francisco to a French-born mother and a father who was a mining engineer, Mr Salinger enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 during World War II.

He finished his degree at the University of San Francisco and then began work at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mr Salinger worked for Collier's magazine in the mid-1950s before becoming an investigator with Robert Kennedy on the Senate anti-racketeering committee from 1957 to 1959, when he went to work for Senator John F Kennedy.


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