3 charged over Hollande affair actress photo

2014-04-12 22:32

Nanterre - A photographer and two executives at the magazine that exposed French President Francois Hollande's affair with an actress are to be charged under France's strict privacy laws, a prosecutor said Saturday.

Photographer Laurent Viers and two Closer magazine executives will appear in court on 1 July charged with breach of privacy, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of up to $62 500.

The charges relate to a picture of the actress, 41-year-old Julie Gayet, behind the wheel of her car that Closer published in January. Under French law, the inside of a car is considered to be a private space.

Prosecutor Robert Gelli said the evidence - including Gayet's own testimony - indicated that Viers took the photograph.

The two magazine executives were charged for publishing the photo which was "taken in a private space and without the actress's consent", Gelli said.

They are Carmine Perna, director general of Closer publisher Mondadori Magazines France, and the magazine's editor-in-chief Laurence Pieau.

Closer set off a political earthquake in January by publishing photographs purportedly showing Hollande arriving for trysts on a scooter at an apartment near the Elysee presidential palace.

Fake ID

It claimed the affair, which led to Hollande's split from longtime partner Valerie Trierweiler, began two years ago.

The court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre will also charge Viers with forgery after police who searched his home found a fake press card.

Sebastien Valiela - the celebrity photographer who took the pictures that exposed the affair - is charged with conspiracy in the forgery because the fake ID was based on his card.

On 27 March, a French court ordered Closer to pay the actress €15 000 in damages for breach of privacy.

The sum fell short of the 50,000 euros Gayet had demanded when she filed the suit.