Prison threat for Sarkozy TV leak

Journalist who published leaked video of Nicolas Sarkozy faces jail term and a €375k fine for 'receiving stolen goods'

13 June 2010

A JOURNALIST who published a leaked video of Nicolas Sarkozy giving a lesson in manners to a TV technician has been charged with receiving stolen goods.

Augustin Scalbert, who works for news website, faces up to five years in prison and a €375,000 fine if found guilty.

The legal action is being brought by France 3, which had invited Sarkozy to appear on its evening news bulletin in June 2008. The channel is also taking action against the technician who leaked the clip to Rue89.

The footage has been watched millions of times on the Daily Motion video-sharing website and shows the minutes leading up to the president's interview.

In the clip, Sarkozy is seen having make-up applied and is heard to say bonjour to a technician fitting a microphone who then does not respond.

"It’s a question of education," the president says. "When you’re invited, you have the right for people to say hello to you.

"Otherwise, we’re not at a public broadcaster we’re at a street rally… unbelievable."

The president then added: "This is going to change."

Later in the video, Sarkozy asks one of the bulletin's journalists, Gilles Leclerc, why he had not been on-screen for a long time, asking how long he had been "au placard" (kept aside).

The Green party said the legal action against the journalist who published the clip was "an attack on the freedom of the press".

Reporters Without Borders and the national journalists' union SNJ have demanded that France 3 withdraw the action.

Rue89 founder Pierre Haski said the journalist was "doing their job". He said: "In our opinion, the public have a right to see these images."

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