World

Sarkozy Claims Innocence, Blasts Opponents In Interview

The former French president was detained for 15 hours Tuesday and interrogated over accusations of corruption.

Sarkozy Claims Innocence, Blasts Opponents In Interview
Flickr / World Economic Forum
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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is letting the public know just how outraged he is after 15 hours of police detainment Tuesday over accusations of corruption. (Via Flickr / World Economic Forum)

"Everything has been done to create an image of me that is simply not true. ... I have never committed an act contrary to the values of the republic or the rule of law." (Via BBC)

Wednesday, Sarkozy took to French airwaves, sitting down with TF1 to defend himself and to accuse unnamed opponents of manipulating the justice system for political purposes.

So, why was Sarkozy detained? Investigators have opened a formal inquiry into whether the former president offered political favors to a judge in exchange for info on a separate campaign finance probe he was also the target of. (Via France 24)

The center-right politician has long faced accusations that former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi funneled 50 million euros to Sarkozy's presidential campaign. (Via The Telegraph)

Wednesday, Sarkozy also mocked police monitoring of his phone. It was reportedly tapped over the past year in an effort to catch a call connecting Sarkozy's campaign funds to Libya. Now, whether the current government's motivations are political or genuine, France's current Socialist government doesn't appear to be letting Sarkozy off the hook.

Speaking to BFM television, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “This situation is serious; the facts are grave" and that the justice system "must carry out its work serenely."

Meanwhile, Sarkozy's center-right party isn't in much better shape than its old leader. And the other major political force in France, the Socialist party, has suffered steadily deteriorating public support — probably not helped by a series of scandals involving President Francois Hollande, a potential mistress and a Vespa scooter rendezvous. (Via The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Closer)

Sarkozy could face a fine and jail time if found guilty on any charges related to leveraging political influence for favors.