France: Le Pen staff questioned in parliament jobs probe

AP News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2017 10:20 AM
France: Le Pen staff questioned in parliament jobs probe

PARIS (AP) — French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's bodyguard and a top aide are being questioned in an investigation into money spent on her party's European Parliament assistants.

Asked about the questioning, Le Pen dismissed the probe Wednesday as "political maneuvering" ahead of France's two-round April-May presidential election.

An official close to the investigation said bodyguard Thierry Legier and aide Catherine Griset, who were also employed as European Parliament assistants, were taken in for questioning Wednesday near Paris. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.

The two can be held for questioning up to 48 hours, after which they could be released or presented to an investigating judge to face potential preliminary charges.

Prompted by a European Commission investigation into the case, the Paris prosecutor's office opened a judicial inquiry on potential charges including fraud, abuse of trust and organized criminal activity. Investigators are also looking at other National Front members' use of parliamentary aides.

Investigators suspect that members of Le Pen's National Front used legislative aides for the party's political activity while they were on the European Parliament's payroll. The party denies wrongdoing.