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French presidential race takes an odd turn with spying allegations

French presidential race takes an odd turn with spying allegations

France's Socialists are demanding an investigation into a report that the team of presidential candidate and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy ordered a spy probe into a member of the rival camp.
Le Canard Enchaine newspaper reported Wednesday that Sarkozy's Cabinet asked a police intelligence unit to dig up dirt on Bruno Rebelle, a member of the campaign team of Socialist candidate Segolene Royal.
Sarkozy called the allegations "utterly ridiculous" and said the Socialists should "keep cool." Sarkozy's Cabinet released a statement saying it did not order any probe into Rebelle, who is the former director of Greenpeace France and who advises Royal on the environment.
Sarkozy and Royal, a former environment minister, are the two leading candidates in France's April-May presidential race, and they are neck-and-neck in the polls.
Royal told RMC-Info radio Thursday that an investigation must clear up what happened. She added that it was up to the current president, Jacques Chirac, to make sure the presidential campaign is clean.
The article caused a stir among the Socialists, with spokesman Julien Dray accusing Sarkozy's team of using "unacceptable tactics." The party's leader, Francois Hollande _ who is also Royal's romantic partner and the father of her four children _ said the fact that Sarkozy remains interior minister during his candidacy is causing suspicions.
"If confirmed, this would be extremely worrisome, because it would mean that the Interior Ministry is working for Mr. Sarkozy the candidate," Hollande said.


Updated : 2021-07-25 06:50 GMT+08:00