Hollande staff transferred amid gossip photo flap

AP News
Posted: Dec 01, 2014 10:03 AM
Hollande staff transferred amid gossip photo flap

PARIS (AP) — It looks like a French president can't even trust his private staff to keep quiet about his love life.

Five members of Socialist President Francois Hollande's "private service" are being transferred amid questions over who took photos published in a gossip magazine — and whether they're linked to conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy has just made a political comeback.

The photos, purporting to show Hollande with actress Julie Gayet on the terrace of the Elysee Palace, were published last month by Voici. French media reported that they were taken from within the presidential private apartments.

The French presidency on Monday confirmed the five are being sent to different jobs, but didn't give any more details.

The president and former partner Valerie Trierweiler broke up in January after another magazine published photos of what it said was a helmeted Hollande visiting Gayet in a Paris apartment.

The affair raised concerns about presidential security and the private lives of French leaders — which are more and more on public display in an era of Twitter and increasing demands for transparency in politics.

Ever since then, many French have wondered what's going on with their leader's personal life.

Hollande hasn't appeared publicly with Gayet, but implicitly confirmed last month that he was the helmeted mystery man.

"I did use motorbikes in my life and so what? Yes it's true... the rest is private life. If I may have made mistakes, I admit them," he said on a prime-time television show.

Left-wing newspaper Liberation said that four of the five now-removed staff members had been hired when Sarkozy was president. That prompted speculation that a mole could give information about Hollande to Sarkozy, who doesn't hide his ambition to run for the next presidential election in 2017.

In the meantime, Trierweiler is currently promoting her book "Thank You For This Moment," recently published in English and 11 other languages, in which she paints a harsh portrait of the French president.