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Macron's Paris mayoral candidate quits after sex video publication

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Macron's Paris mayoral candidate quits after sex video publication
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Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
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The main Paris mayoralty candidate from French president Macron's LREM party, Benjamin Griveaux, withdrew from the race on Friday following the online publication of pornographic videos and messages allegedly featuring himself.

A blogpost written by controversial Russian artist Piotr Pavlenski, shared screengrabs and sex videos that Griveaux sent to a woman who subsequently sent them on to Pavlenski. It was heavily shared on social media on Thursday evening and Friday morning, before Griveaux's official declaration.

Griveaux announced his departure from the race in a video aired by BFM TV, saying he regretted "revolting attacks" against his campaign.

"A website and social media have published revolting attacks against me and my privacy", Griveaux said in the video. "Our project for Paris, which my campaign team and I have built and fought for, will live on without me"

"This is a hard decision for me, but I do not wish to put my family and myself at risk any more", he added.

He neither denied nor confirmed being the creator of the videos.

Griveaux's withdrawal from the race is a major let down for Macron's party La Republique en Marche (LREM) in Paris' municipal elections.

Griveaux told AFP that he spoke with president Macron on Thursday night and that the leader assured him of his renewed support "whatever he chose to do".

Previously the Elysee palace's spokesperson, Griveaux has been a close ally of Macron's since his presidential campaign in 2017.

Griveaux's fellow Paris mayoralty candidates, Socialist Anne Hidalgo and independent Cedric Villani, published messages in support of their former rival.

Hidalgo called for the "respect of people's privacy".

Villani described the leak as a "serious threat to democracy" and said: "I send my full support to Benjamin Griveaux and his family." Villani is running as an independent candidate in the Paris race.

Olivia Gregoire, an MP for the LREM party, told the AFP that "whatever happens", there will be a LREM candidate's list for the Paris municipal election.

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