WASHINGTON — The federal government Wednesday denied Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan permission to accept a promised $1-billion gift from Libya to help African Americans economically and politically.
Accused of supporting global terrorism, Libya for years has been under U.S. sanctions that bar most financial transactions between the two countries and limit travel.
Farrakhan had applied last week to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, asking that he be granted an exemption from the sanctions to permit acceptance of the $1 billion pledged by Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi during a visit Farrakhan made to Libya in January.
The Treasury Department denied that request in a message to Farrakhan's lawyers in Chicago, asserting the continuing need of the United States to enforce its policy of isolating Libya.
Farrakhan was en route to Libya, where he is scheduled to receive a $250,000 humanitarian award from Kadafi on Saturday. That gift, too, was barred by the government decision.
At a news conference in Chicago before his departure, Farrakhan said the U.S. government has left poor Americans "in the lurch" with a new welfare law and said he wanted to use the Libyan gift to help blacks and the poor.