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French daily accuses Sarkozy over press freedom

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French daily accuses Sarkozy over press freedom

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The French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ is taking legal action over an alleged breach of press freedom laws by President Nicolas Sarkozy. It claims the Elysee ordered an illegal inquiry into who was behind a leak to the paper in its reporting of a scandal dogging Labour Minister Eric Woerth.

The eminent daily is defending its right to cover the affair embroiling Woerth and France’s richest woman Liliane Bettencourt. Its Chief Executive Officer Eric Fottorino said: “A journalist at “Le Monde,” like in any other newsroom, is looking for information on the Woerth-Bettencourt case. And when he finds it, what happens? Efforts are made not to remove the journalist from the equation, but his source.”

Woerth denies any wrongdoing in the Bettencourt affair. A family feud for the L’Oreal heiress has exploded into a series of probes concerning political donations and suspected tax evasion. The Elysee Palace has dismissed claims it ordered police intelligence officers to track the source. But with Sarkozy’s popularity rating already close to record lows, the last thing he needs is another scandal.