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Ex-Beatle strongly denies near-death report

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Former Beatle George Harrison and his wife issued a written statement Monday denying published reports that he was close to death after recent treatment for cancer.

The English newspaper the Mail on Sunday said Harrison had told his friend and former Beatles producer George Martin "that he does not have long to live."

The newspaper quoted Martin as saying: "He is taking it easy and hoping that the thing will go away. He has an indomitable spirit, but he knows that he is going to die soon and he is accepting that."

The Harrison statement used strong language to deny the Mail on Sunday's story: "We are disappointed and disgusted by the report," it said. "It was unsubstantiated, untrue and totally uncalled for, when in fact Mr. Harrison is active and feeling very well. It has caused untold distress amongst our family and friends. The original 'story' was conjured up by the National Enquirer, the Globe and the Daily Mail."

A spokesman for the Mail on Sunday told CNN that the newspaper stands by its story and is confident Martin was quoted accurately.

Two weeks ago, Harrison told his fans he was feeling fine after undergoing radiotherapy at a Swiss cancer clinic.

Swiss cancer specialist Franco Cavalli confirmed that he had recently treated Harrison.

At the beginning of May, Harrison had surgery at the Mayo Clinic in the United States to remove a cancerous growth from one of his lungs.

Harrison overcame throat cancer in 1998, which he blamed on smoking. He was given the all-clear after radiation therapy.

Just over 18 months ago, Harrison survived a life-and-death struggle of a very different kind -- with a knife-wielding intruder who stabbed him in the chest.

The former Beatle was almost killed in the attack at his home near London in late 1999. He was saved by his wife, Olivia, who hit the attacker on the head with a poker and table lamp.

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