Sarkozy accuses France of ‘acting like Stasi’ after bugged

The article follows revelations in the French media that independent judges had tapped several of his telephones

Paris

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy declared war on the French government today, accusing them of acting like the East German secret police, the Stasi, by conspiring with magistrates to bug his telephones.

In his first public declaration since he was defeated in the May 2012 presidential elections, Mr Sarkozy wrote a passionate and vituperative two page article in the newspaper Le Figaro accusing the Socialist government of acting like a “dictatorship” and trampling “human rights”.

The article follows explosive revelations in the French media that independent judges investigating alleged financial wrong-doing by Mr Sarkozy had tapped several of his telephones from July last year.

The bugging revealed an alleged attempt by the ex-President to derail investigations against him – which cover, amongst other things,  an accusation that he took money from the former Libyan dictator, Moammar Gaddafi.

His public counter-attack yesterday provoked equally blistering responses from President Francois Hollande and members of his government.

Mr Hollande said that is was “intolerable” to compare France with East Germany. The interior minister, Manuel Valls, said that Mr Sarkozy was trying to “protect himself” behind a screen of “rage”.  Other Socialist politicians spoke of the “Berlusconisation” of Mr Sarkozy.

In the French judicial system, investigating magistrates are independent of the government.  There is no evidence that 12 different magistrates investigating the former President – including the two who bugged him – are under government influence.  

Mr Sarkozy’s supporters – and now Mr Sarkozy himself – insist that the bugging can only have been inspired by the Hollande administration as part of a “political persecution”. 

In a 2,000 word open letter to the French people which led the pro-Sarkozy newspaper Le Figaro today, the former president said: “I learn in the press that all my telephones have been bugged for eight months. The police have every detail of my intimate conversations with my wife, children and friends…One can easily imagine who is reading the transcripts!”

“…This is not an extract from that marvellous film “The Lives of Others” on East Germany and the activities of the Stasi. This is not the actions of some dictator somewhere against his political opposition. This is France.”

Ministers have adamantly denied that they approved, or even knew of, the tapping of Mr Sarkozy’s phones but they have  generated suspicion by making clumsy and contradictory statements about how much they did know and when. Mr Sarkozy listed and then dismissed these denial yesterday. “Who do they think they are kidding?” he asked.

A transcript of several of bugged calls leaked this week, appeared to confirm earlier reports that the ex-President  tried last month to influence and obtain secret information on the inner workings of France’s highest appeal court, the Cour de  Cassation.

In return, the transcripts implied, Mr Sarkozy promised to obtain a gilded retirement post in Monaco for one of the most senior judges in the court.

As a result, he now faces a possible prosecution for “influence peddling” and interference in the justice system.

In his article today. Mr Sarkozy dismissed this new allegation and all the other accusations against him. He said that the leaked transcripts had been deliberately edited to give the impression of wrong-doing where there was none.

On the allegation that President Muammar Gaddafi funded his successful 2007 presidential campaign, Mr Sarkozy said; “The war that we waged in Libya (in 2011) lasted 10 months,” he said. “If Gaddafi had the least documentary evidence against me, why didn’t  he use it?”

In one intriguing passage, Mr Sarkozy appears to offer an informal deal to the government – call off the judges and I will not run again in 2017. 

French political commentators insisted, however, that he was actually saying the opposite: that he would use the criminal investigation against him as an excuse to abandon his political retirement.

“For all those who fear my return,” Mr Sarkozy said in the last lines of his article, “let me assure them that the best way of avoidng it is to let me live my life, simply, quietly, just like any normal citizen.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory