Macron aide scandal: illegally copied CCTV footage given to Élysée ended up on Twitter

Alexandre Benalla (foreground) during the May Day marches in Paris on May 1st. © DR Alexandre Benalla (foreground) during the May Day marches in Paris on May 1st. © DR

The unfolding scandal prompted by videos of the vicious assault of a man during May Day disturbances by President Emmanuel Macron’s private security aide Alexandre Benalla now includes the revelation that confidential police CCTV footage of the events in a Paris square were published on Twitter by supporters of Macron’s party in an attempt to denigrate Benalla’s victim. Screenshots obtained by Mediapart show the images, apparently from a CD copy of the footage given to Benalla by police officers, and which Benalla said he immediately handed to the Élysée Palace, were posted on social media just after Benalla’s thuggish behaviour was revealed by French daily Le Monde – before being removed just hours later.Karl Laske, Pascale Pascariello and Lénaïg Bredoux report.

Benalla scandal lifts lid on shadowy Élysée 'mission leaders'

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Extract from Alexandre Benalla's empoyment contract with the Elysée Palace (full details in the article). © Document Mediapart Extract from Alexandre Benalla's empoyment contract with the Elysée Palace (full details in the article). © Document Mediapart

The political scandal surrounding Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla is centred less on his thuggish behaviour in beating up May Day demonstrators while illegally wearing police insignia but rather on the secrecy of his role and his relationship with the president who afforded the 26-year-old extraordinary powers. Benalla was engaged as a ‘mission leader’ with the presidency, a vague title afforded to a number of other Élysée Palace staff whose activities are largely unaccountable to the public. Mediapart has obtained the employment contracts of Benalla and five other so-called ‘mission leaders’ at the Élysée which reveal how they are exempt from probity law requirements that apply to official advisors. Mathilde Mathieu reports.     

French minister and police chief point to Élysée over Benalla scandal

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French interior minister Gérard Collomb appearing before MPs on Monday. © Reuters French interior minister Gérard Collomb appearing before MPs on Monday. © Reuters

The French parliament commission of inquiry into the scandal sparked by media revelations last week of the vicious assault upon a May Day demonstrator by President Emmanuel Macron’s personal security advisor, Alexandre Benalla, who was illegally allowed to take an active part in policing May 1st crowds dressed with police insignia, began its first hearings on Monday, when it quizzed interior minister Gérard Collomb and Paris police prefect Michel Delpuech. In their testimony, both men clearly placed responsibility for what increasingly appears as a far-reaching cover-up at the door of the presidential office.

The Macron presidency's dark side revealed

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Emmanuel Macron (left) with his now disgraced security aide, Alexandre Benalla, during election campaigning in May 2017. © Régis Duvignau/Reuters Emmanuel Macron (left) with his now disgraced security aide, Alexandre Benalla, during election campaigning in May 2017. © Régis Duvignau/Reuters

The scandal surrounding French president Emmanuel Macron’s security advisor Alexandre Benalla, who beat up May Day demonstrators while passing himself off as a police officer, evokes a nauseating picture of a parallel police and a private security office within the heart of the French presidential office, writes Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel in this opinion article on the fast-developing crisis engulfing Macron and his government. This privatisation of the president’s security, with the ugly atmosphere of hatchet men with a law to themselves, reveals the dark side of Macron’s monarchic style of leadership.

Macron thug-and-aide scandal deepens with cover-up claims

Alexandre Benalla (centre) and his associate Vincent Crase attack a demonstrator on May 1st in the presence of police. © DR Alexandre Benalla (centre) and his associate Vincent Crase attack a demonstrator on May 1st in the presence of police. © DR

President Emmanuel Macron was this weekend mired the gravest crisis since he came to office little more than a year ago, after further revelations about the events when his personal security advisor physically assaulted May Day demonstrators while dressed as a police officer, and growing evidence that his extraordinary behaviour was covered up by the Élysée Palace and the interior ministry. Both Macron and his interior minister Gérard Collomb were reportedly made aware more than two months ago of the thuggish behaviour of the president’s personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla, who was only finally dismissed from his post on Friday when he was taken into police custody two days after the scandal was first revealed by the media.

Élysée knew Macron aide beat up demonstrators

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Alexandre Benalla (right) with Emmanuel Macron in May 2017. © Reuters Alexandre Benalla (right) with Emmanuel Macron in May 2017. © Reuters

The French presidency on Thursday was engulfed in a developing scandal after it was revealed that an official advisor on President Emmanuel Macron’s personal security assaulted demonstrators in a Paris square on May 1st, while dressed as a police officer. Video footage clearly shows Alexandre Benalla manhandling a distressed woman before launching a vicious attack on a young man who was left on his knees in agony. It now emerges that the presidency was at the time made aware of the incidents, but Benalla was given only a two-week suspension from his post. Ellen Salvi reports.

The lessons from the past as France celebrates its football champions

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A man celebrates France's victory in the World Cup on Sunday in the Goutte d'Or neighbourhood of Paris. © Rachida El Azzouzi A man celebrates France's victory in the World Cup on Sunday in the Goutte d'Or neighbourhood of Paris. © Rachida El Azzouzi

After winning the football World Cup tournament in Russia, France’s national football team arrived home on Monday, when rejoicing crowds turned out to applaud them riding a double-decker bus along the Champs-Elysées avenue in central Paris, before a reception at the presidential palace. Since France’s victory over Croatia in the final on Sunday, streets across the country have been swamped in a flag-waving, car-horn blazing party of multi-coloured jubilation. But, warns Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas, while this temporary moment of collective joy is one to embrace, it heralds no change for the country’s underlining social, political and economic problems.

Suffocating jails, torture and forced labour: rescued migrants recount the hell of Libya

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Rescued migrants on board the MV Lifeline shortly before disembarking in Malta. © Reuters Rescued migrants on board the MV Lifeline shortly before disembarking in Malta. © Reuters

Late in June, after days of diplomatic wrangling, 234 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast while attempting to reach Europe in flimsy dinghies were finally allowed to disembark in Malta after several countries agreed to receive quotas from the group. Earlier this month, 51 of them arrived in France. Mediapart travelled to Toulouse, where some were given provisional accommodation, to listen to the harrowing stories of their experiences in Libya, where black Africans are subject to endemic racism and many become the prey and prisoner of vicious local militias. “If an Arab catches you, he sells you,” said one of the survivors. “When you are black, you are a commodity, you’re bought and sold on.” Mathilde Mathieu reports. 

The MEPs earning millions of euros from jobs on the side

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European Parliament members attending a plenary session in Strasbourg in July 2018. © Vincent Kessler / Reuters. European Parliament members attending a plenary session in Strasbourg in July 2018. © Vincent Kessler / Reuters.

Almost a third of the 751 Members the European Parliament (MEPs) have earned a combined total of up to 41 million euros from outside activities over the four years since the current legislature was elected in 2014, according to a report published this week by anti-corruption organisation Transparency International. The numbers of MEPs remunerated for outside activities – which include working for private companies, lobbyists and investment funds – has risen dramatically since 2014, reveals the NGO which highlights a limp and ill-enforced code of ethics that allows numerous potential conflicts of interest among the lawmakers who are among the continent’s highest-paid elected representatives. Mediapart Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

French film director Luc Besson faces new claims of sexual violence

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Luc Besson. © Reuters Luc Besson. © Reuters

On July 6th, 2018, a former casting director wrote to the Paris public prosecutor claiming she had been 'sexually assaulted' by the acclaimed French film director and producer Luc Besson. This follows allegations of rape detailed in a formal complaint on May 18th by the actress Sand Van Roy against Besson, and a further complaint by Van Roy on July 6th. After an investigation lasting several months, Mediapart can reveal the stories of several women who describe sexually inappropriate behaviour by Besson, best known for blockbuster films such as 'Nikita', ‘The Big Blue’, 'Leon', ‘The Fifth Element’, and more recently 'Lucy', and who has vehemently denied all the allegations against him. Marine Turchi, Lénaig Bredoux and Geoffrey Le Guilcher report.

Inspections highlight worrying safety lapses at French nuclear power plants

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The nuclear power station at Chinon in western France,  where a number of safety issues were identified. © Reuters The nuclear power station at Chinon in western France, where a number of safety issues were identified. © Reuters

A Parliamentary report recently called for improvements in safety at the country's nuclear power plants. In response, the state-backed power utility EDF, which operates the plants, insisted that safety is its top priority. But documents from the French nuclear watchdog the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire seen by Mediapart – but not by French MPs who wrote the report – reveal a different story. They show that procedures to prevent explosions in areas of several nuclear plants are deeply inadequate and in some cases non-existent. Pascale Pascariello reports.

Prosecutor calls for pilots to be tried over bombing that killed French soldiers

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Will they stand trial? Former ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters Will they stand trial? Former ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters

In 2004 a bombing raid killed nine French soldiers and an American aid worker at Bouaké in Ivory Coast. Fourteen years later, and after years of painstaking investigation in the face of bureaucratic obstruction from the French authorities, prosecutors in Paris have said that three pilots should stand trial over the attack. As Antton Rouget reports, it could also pave the way for three senior French government ministers at the time - Dominique de Villepin, Michèle Alliot-Marie and Michel Barnier – to stand trial too.

Tunisia faces double migrant squeeze as its citizens head for Europe

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A 2017 report showing the breakdown in ages of Tunisians seeking to leave the country clandestinely. © dr A 2017 report showing the breakdown in ages of Tunisians seeking to leave the country clandestinely. © dr

Migration has fashioned Tunisia for over two decades, most notably after the uprising that sparked the Arab Spring in 2011, when tens of thousands left a country riddled with unemployment and inequality once old restrictions were lifted. Now Tunisia finds itself in a double bind. It is resisting pressure to house migrants from other African countries trying to reach Europe via its territory, even as a new exodus of its own citizens gathers pace, prompted by economic, political and social distress. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.

Mystery of the giant shipping line linked to President Macron's chief of staff

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MSC container ships in the Spanish port of Valencia. © Reuters MSC container ships in the Spanish port of Valencia. © Reuters

Why was Alexis Kohler, who is now secretary general at the Elysee and chief of staff to President Emmanuel Macron, so keen to become finance director at the shipping firm MSC and its cruise company subsidiary MSC Cruises? Yes, the Italian-Swiss group is world number two in maritime freight, is a major cruise company and controls a number of port terminals. But it also uses tax havens and practices tax avoidance, keeps its business confidential and operates in an environment where dangerous shadows lurk. Martine Orange and Cecilia Ferrara investigate.

The ex-wine lobbyist who handles viticulture issues as Élysée advisor

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Sharing a glass: Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l'Agriculture farming show in 2018. © Reuters Sharing a glass: Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l'Agriculture farming show in 2018. © Reuters

At the request of the French president's office, France's wine sector is preparing to publish a prevention plan against alcohol abuse. However, President Emmanuel Macron's advisor at the Élysée on the issue, Audrey Bourolleau, herself used to be a lobbyist for this powerful sector until last year. Yet despite this apparently glaring conflict of interest, the advisor has continued to be involved in the issue. Antton Rouget reports.