After former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog admitted earlier this week that he had instructed his client to use a prepaid mobile phone registered under the alias Paul Bismuth, the real Paul Bismuth is considering a lawsuit.
“I feared, with good reason, [that his phone had been] tapped and so arranged to communicate with Nicolas Sarkozy without being listened in on, which, alas, I was right to do,” Herzog told French daily Le Monde in the wake of revelations that judges had ordered the former president’s phones be tapped as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
But Paul Bismuth, the alias under which Herzog chose to register the mobile phone, belongs to a real person. Bismuth happens to be a childhood friend of Herzog’s and is a real estate developer in Israel. He is also none too happy about the situation.
Herzog and Bismuth have known each other for decades. The two went to the same secondary school in Paris’s ninth arrondissement, where they became friends in the mid-1960s.
“We were buddies, we drank coffee together, we laughed,” Bismuth told French weekly L’Express.
After graduation, the two went their separate ways, losing touch.
“He went on to study law and I took a different path. I followed the rest of his career in the media,” Bismuth said, adding that they only have a few friends in common from their school days.
When Bismuth learned that his name had been used to acquire a mobile phone for Sarkozy, he called Herzog’s offices to demand an explanation.
“I told him that I was shocked and surprised by what had been done. I got directly to the point. He didn’t really admit anything, but beat around the bush instead,” Bismuth said.
According to Bismuth, Herzog told his one-time friend that he had simply used the first name that came to mind, and had not intended to hurt him.
Bismuth is reportedly still mulling whether or not to take legal action against Herzog. Identity theft in France carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of 15,000 euros.
Date created : 2014-03-13