France's Hollande threatens to sue over report of affair

Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:53pm EST
 
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By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande threatened on Friday to sue celebrity magazine Closer, complaining of breach of privacy after it alleged he was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

The weekly French tabloid, criticized in 2012 for publishing topless pictures of Kate Middleton, Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, printed seven pages of photos of comings and goings outside a Paris apartment block to support its allegation.

"Francois Hollande greatly deplores the invasion of his privacy, to which he has a right as any other citizen does. He is studying what action, including legal action, to take following this publication," a source in Hollande's office said. The source did not directly deny the story, however.

In a statement later on Friday, Closer said that at the request of Gayet's lawyer it would remove all reference to the alleged relationship from its website, but there was no mention of plans to pull the publication from newsstands.

While the French have long been indulgent of their leaders' infidelities, the pictures were an unwelcome distraction for Hollande as he battles to revive the euro zone's second largest economy and faces record low approval ratings in opinion polls.

According to Closer, movie actress Gayet, 41, is seen arriving at the apartment block in Paris's upmarket eighth arrondissement late at night.

The pictures then show the arrival of a man resembling Hollande's bodyguard. A second man - which Closer said was Hollande - then arrives on the back of a scooter. He is unidentifiable because he is wearing a black helmet.

Subsequent photos taken in the morning show the first man arriving with what Closer said was a bag of croissants, then the second man in a helmet emerging and jumping on the back of a scooter.   Continued...

 
French President Francois Hollande wears protection for his ears as he watches a Mirage 2000-5 which taxis out of its hangar during a visit to the Creil military airbase as he presents New Year wishes to the French Army in Creil, near Paris, January 8, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer