Djibril Cissé claims innocence in Valbuena sex tape blackmail plot
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Former French striker Djibril Cissé has denied trying to blackmail ex-teammate Mathieu Valbuena using sex tape footage, a day after he was arrested and questioned over his alleged involvement in the extortion plot.
Cissé, 34, who spent two seasons in the Premier League with Liverpool and who has also played for clubs including Auxerre, Marseille, Sunderland, Lazio and Panathinaikos, was arrested along with three other people on Tuesday morning.
All four were taken into custody and questioned over an alleged attempt to blackmail Lyon player Valbuena, a former teammate of Cissé’s at Marseille, by using footage of a sex tape recorded on a mobile phone, said a police official.
Cissé was released without charge late in the afternoon and immediately claimed his innocence on French TV, calling up personal friend and host of French chat show “Touche pas à mon poste” (Don’t Touch My TV), Cyril Hanouna, to give his side of the story.
"I have nothing to do with it, Mathieu is a friend of mine,” he told Hanouna over the phone during the show’s live broadcast.
“I just warned him that there was something hot going on involving him. That’s it. End of story,” he told Hanouna, a personal friend of Cissé’s whom he contacted in order to give his version of events.
Hanouna then attempted to crack a joke about the sex tape, but Cissé was clearly in no laughing mood.
"Frankly, it's not funny. It's something that could have been very bad for me and for him,” he said, insisting the police had only taken him in for questioning "to hear my side of the story”.
Cissé, who retired from professional football earlier this year and is now appearing on France's version of "Strictly Come Dancing", "Danse avec les stars", also took to Twitter after his release from arrest, saying simply: “don't worry be happy, no comment.”
The existence of the sex tape, allegedly made by the 31-year-old Valbuena and his partner, is “yet to be proven”, according to a source close to the investigation.
Lawyers for Valbuena told the AFP news agency they would not comment while the investigation was under way.
According to a police source, Cissé was apprehended because he knew the others involved, but is not suspected of being an instigator in the extortion scheme.
The three others arrested remained in custody as of Tuesday evening, according to a judicial source.
They face extortion and other offences punishable by at least five years in jail, the public prosecutor's office said.
The flamboyant Cissé himself made a complaint to police in 2008 after claiming he was the target of a blackmail attempt involving a sex tape while he was playing for Marseille.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)