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French first lady dismisses rumors of infidelity

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy dismisses as "insignificant" rumors of infidelity and brushes off theories of a plot to bring down her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on Wednesday dismissed as "insignificant" rumors of infidelity by her and her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and brushed off theories that lies were planted in a plot to bring down the glamorous couple.

She said in an interview with Europe 1 radio that she and Sarkozy "have turned the page" and suggested the media to do the same.

The rumors started in early March by appearing on the blog of a French Sunday newspaper. The rest of the French media initially took a don't-touch approach, even though some foreign newspapers, notably British, published the rumors. They alleged that both the first lady, a former top model, and the president were having affairs.

The reports made headlines in France last weekend with interviews by Sarkozy's lawyer and a top aide close to the first lady who both held out the possibility that the rumors were part of a plot aimed at "destabilizing" the presidential couple.

‘No vengeance’
But on Wednesday, Bruni-Sarkozy said: "For me and my husband these rumors are insignificant. ... There is no plot. There is no vengeance. There is nothing. We have turned the page."

Sarkozy's whirlwind romance and marriage in February 2008 to Bruni-Sarkozy, who is now a popular singer, has been closely watched. It is his third marriage and she, in her younger years, famously dismissed monogamy as untenable. Sarkozy married Bruni after an embarrassing public separation and divorce from Cecilia Sarkozy.

In the face of the rumors, the couple have portrayed themselves as tenderly united. They were often seen holding hands during a trip last week to the United States that included a private dinner with the Obamas at the White House.

Bruni-Sarkozy spoke of her husband with devotion on Wednesday, saying his job was not to fight back tawdry rumors but to work for the French.

The company which owns the Sunday paper, Le Journal du Dimanche, filed a legal complaint on March 25 for the "fraudulent introduction of information in a computer system," which is against the law in France. The paper did not print the blog in question and the company which owns the paper, Hachette Filipacchi Medias, sought to determine who was responsible for the rumor.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday that, following the complaint, judicial police are investigating to determine the source of the rumor.

Denying Sarkozy pushed for legal action
Bruni-Sarkozy denied press reports that the French president pressured Hachette Filipacchi Medias to take legal action. Hachette Filipacchi is a subsidiary of the Lagardere group, which is headed by Sarkozy's good friend, Arnaud Lagardere.

That action "does not concern us at all," the first lady said. She also denied reports that a separate investigation ordered by the presidential Elysee Palace had been launched.

Finally, she denied what has turned into the latest headline grabber in the saga — allegations that ex-Justice Minister Rachida Dati planted the rumors. The glamorous Dati, close to Sarkozy's former wife Cecilia, fell out of favor after his marriage to Bruni and as criticism mounted about her handling of the ministry.

In a statement, Dati, who now serves as a lawmaker in the European Parliament, denied the allegations. The first lady said it was just a rumor, "so I don't believe it." Dati "remains our friend," she said.

"I came here to ... avoid that this affair which has no importance takes on proportions that I find ridiculous," Bruni-Sarkozy told Europe 1. Since she and her husband have turned the page, she said with a nervous laugh, "I came simply to suggest that (you) turn it."