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October 25, 2014

Scandal saga

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sarkozy condemns ‘Stasi‘ phone-tap

PARIS — Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy broke his silence yesterday over corruption allegations threatening his chances of a political comeback, comparing his country to a dictatorship as he angrily fought back against a phone-tap scandal.

The 59-year-old has found himself at the heart of an increasingly tangled web of scandals, culminating with allegations in the press this month that he attempted to pervert the course of justice — information reportedly gleaned from excerpts of tapped phone conversations with his lawyer.

Until now, he had remained firmly silent and the publication this week of more detailed extracts of the chats was seen by many as a nail in the coffin of any ambitions he harboured of making a comeback in 2017 presidential elections.

In a letter to be published in Le Figaro newspaper today, the 59-year- old said the phone-tapping had broken “fundamental principles”, the judiciary had been “instrumentalised” and “the sacred principles of our Republic have been trampled underfoot”.

"Who handed over these documents when no lawyer has access to the procedure? The only people who hold (the documents) are judges or policemen... Are they above laws and judicial secrecy?" he asked of the phone tap leaks to daily Le Monde and news website Mediapart.

Pointing out that his phones were tapped by judges hoping to find evidence, he said: "This is not an extract of the marvellous film 'The Lives of Others' on East Germany and the activities of the Stasi (feared state security). It's not the actions of a dictator against his opponents. This is France," he said.

The letter came after his lawyer said earlier yesterday he would make a legal complaint against the phone-tappings, which were conducted in connection with investigations into the funding of Sarkozy’s succesful 2007 election campaign. Le Monde newspaper broke the news of their existence earlier this month.

They unwittingly stumbled upon the conversations leaked to the media that allegedly suggested Sarkozy got a friendly judge to try to influence the outcome of legal deliberations in one of France's highest courts in a completely separate case.

Herald with AFP, Reuters

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