01/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Iraqi Baath Arrests "A Big Lie," Interior Minister Says

BAGHDAD, Dec. 19 -- Iraq's interior minister on Friday angrily dismissed reports that a group of officials from his ministry was plotting to overthrow the government and said the arrests of the men were politically motivated.

"It is a big lie. The public must understand this," Jawad al-Bolani told reporters at a news conference, referring to the accusations against the men. "It was clearly motivated by politics and was not related to security."

Bolani's comments came a day after an Interior Ministry spokesman announced the arrests of 23 of the ministry's officials, as well as some from other security ministries, on suspicion of attempting to reconstitute Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which was banned after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

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