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'Salahis demanding six figure payment for their story'

November 29, 2009 20:35 IST

An American couple, who gatecrashed into a State dinner President Barack Obama hosted for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the White House, were now trying to peddle their story for hundreds of thousands of dollars to television networks.

The Virginia socialites and aspiring reality TV stars, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who came face to face with Obama as well as Singh on Tuesday, remained elusive, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

They remained elusive as reports surfaced that the Salahis were trying to sell their story for hundreds of thousands of dollars and CNN said the couple's upcoming appearance on 'Larry King Live' had been cancelled, it said.

The New York Times cited television executives making the same claim, also speaking on condition of anonymity. "They are asking for best offers from all the networks," the newspaper quoted one as saying.

American network news divisions generally do not pay for interviews.

CNN said the couple's appearance on Monday had been cancelled after producers were told that the Salahis were postponing.

The Associated Press also reported that the Salahis were offering to talk to broadcast networks about their experience and were looking for a payment in the mid-six figures range.

According to the report, representatives for the couple contacted networks to urge them to "get their bids in" for an interview.

The voicemail box for the couple's publicist, Mahogany Jones, was full Saturday night, and she did not respond to an e-mail. Their attorney, Paul W. Gardner, did not respond to a phone message, the Times said.

Meanwhile, no one answered the door Saturday at the couple's house in Front Royal, where reporters and photographers were staked out.

A CBS employee folded a handwritten note into the door, promising the couple that they would get a fair hearing of their side of the story if they talked with anchor Katie Couric.

The US Secret Service apologised on Friday for the security breach, saying protocols were not followed Tuesday night when the Salahis gained entry to President Obama's first state dinner.

A spokesman for the Secret Service said criminal charges had not been ruled out as it has now been confirmed that the American couple came face to face with Obama as well as Singh, contrary to claims by secret service that they did not endangered the VVIPs.

A White House picture posted on several US websites showed the Salahis being greeted and shaking hands with the US President at a reception line, with the Indian Prime Minister smiling alongside.

The secret service earlier this week had said that the President was never in danger as the couple, who attended the State dinner without an invitation, like other guests had gone through four layers of security checks.
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