Osama bin Laden:
Dead? What Killed Him?
Typhoid? Kidney Failure?
Who is Really Behind it?
Has Bin Laden died of typhoid? - Weighing claims and implications.
All the evidence points to L'Est Republicain's exclusive report today about the death of Osama bin Laden being the result of a calculated leak from within the Direction Generale des Services Exterieurs (DGSE), which is the French equivalent of Britain's MI6 with responsibility for intelligence gathering abroad.
The newspaper says the information about bin Laden, received by the DGSE on September 19 and graded confidentiel defence, was passed to President Jacques Chirac and PM Dominique de Villepin on September 21
The contents of L'Est Republicain's report suggests that the newspaper had direct access to this DGSE material: quoting from what appears to be an internal memorandum, it states that a "usually most reliable source" had learned that the Saudi Arabian secret services believed that bin Laden had travelled to Pakistan on or around August 23 to seek immediate medical treatment for a severe bout of typhoid which had partially paralysed his lower body.
The authorities subsequently received information that he had died on September 4: Saudi security agencies were urgently seeking more information, focusing on where bin Laden may have been buried.
On past form, the DGSE might have been expected to leak such dramatic news to one of the Paris-based national newspapers - Le Figaro has been a regular beneficiary in the past - but L'Est Republicain is among the country's oldest and most respected provincial dailies, with a circulation of some 500,000.
The French Defence Ministry's announcement of an investigation into the leak could indicate that L'Est Republicain's information did indeed come from the top.
FIRST POSTED SEPTEMBER 23