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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
Bernard Henri Levy
Bernard-Henri Levy speculates about the death of Daniel Pearl

In a HARDtalk interview on 22 October Jon Sopel speaks to Bernard-Henri Levy about his controversial new book, "Who killed Daniel Pearl?" M Levy believes the true account is more complicated than the one we've been led to believe. But is it anything more than speculation?

M Levy suggests that Daniel Pearl was not killed because he was American or because he was Jewish but because he had discovered details about the the exchange of nuclear intelligence between Pakistan and Al Qaeda.

British-born Omar Sheikh was later convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. He was sentenced to death but is now appealing his conviction.

M Levy describes the murdered journalist as one of "the best journalists of the Anglo-Saxon world."

He says that he wrote the book because "when I herad the news, when I saw the imagery, the decapitation, I felt that this was a huge story.

There were a lot of forces involved and I immediately felt that somebody had to do the job, had to try to find out what happened and what was behind the curtain - and I did it. At the beginning, I though it would take me a few weeks. It took me a year."

He rejects criticism that he has undermined Daniel Pearl's story by using the "romanquete" format - part novel, part investigation: 95% of the book is based on investigation - facts, facts, facts...I went to the places. I met the people he met. I tried to make a few more steps myself in his own investigation.

There are two moments in the book when I become again the writer".

He refers to the time before Omar Sheikh kidnaps Pearl - and the few moments before Daniel Pearl's death. He admits that what he wrote is "half-based on facts and half based on speculation. There is no confusion."

He says that the book dominated his life for a year: "I was nearly mad. I was obsessed."

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 03:30 GMT, 08:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 18:30 GMT and 22:30 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 03:30 and 23:30


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