A French court on Friday ordered a French news site Atlantico to remove the recordings of secretly-taped conversations between former President Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife and aides – in what has become known as the "Sarkoleaks" scandal.
Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni, who is also heard in some of the private conversations, took legal action last week after extracts of the tapes – which were secretly recorded by Sarkozy’s then-political advisor, Patrick Buisson – were published on the website Atlantico.
The Paris court also sentenced Buisson, a former historian and journalist with links to the far-right National Front party, to pay 20,000 euros ($28,000) in damages to the couple.
The recordings contain hours of Sarkozy’s exchanges with both his wife and close aides, and it is unclear how the extracts made their way into the public domain.
While they do not contain any explosive content, the tapes sent the French political class reeling, with many condemning an act of treachery that some deemed a potential threat to national security.
In one of the recordings, Bruni is heard joking about Sarkozy being a kept man and teasing him that her status as First Lady has prevented her from signing lucrative deals to promote wrinkle creams.
Sarkozy embroiled in legal woes
Nothing in the tapes appears to tarnish Sarkozy’s chances of returning to politics in time for the 2017 presidential election, which could find him facing a deeply unpopular François Hollande.
But Sarkozy remains embroiled in other corruption cases. Just a few days after the private conversations were published, Le Monde daily revealed that the former president was suspected of attempting to obstruct justice by trying to obtain secret information about a court case from a judge.
Investigators based their allegations on a conversation between Sarkozy and his lawyer after tapping the former president’s phones as part of a separate probe into the possible financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign by deceased Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The phone-tapping revelations sparked outrage among the conservative Sarkozy’s supporters, who subsequently accused the Socialist government of political espionage.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)
Date created : 2014-03-14