Articles by "France"

French presidential election candidate for the En Marche! movement Emmanuel Macron gestures at the audience during a meeting at the Parc des Expositions in Paris, after the first round of the presidential election, April 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
French centrist presidential candidate Emanuel Macron has underlined his determination to turn a page in French political history, as he and far-right Marine Le Pen go to the run-off presidential vote.
According to final voting figures released by the Interior Ministry on Monday, Macron, a pro-EU ex-banker and former economy minister, won 23.75 percent of the votes against 21.53 percent for Le Pen.
According to new surveys, Macron is expected to win the runoff by 64 percent to 36.
In a victory speech for his supporters in Paris on Sunday, Macron called on all patriots to rally behind him in the battle against what he called the threat of nationalism. “In one year, we have changed the face of French politics," he said.
Macron stressed that, if elected, he will bring in new faces and talents to transform the French political system that "has been incapable of responding to the problems of our country for more than 30 years". "From today I want to build a majority for a government and for a new transformation. It will be made up of new faces and new talent in which every man and woman can have a place," he added.
The other elected contender for the run-off, Le Pen, launched a diatribe against the policies of Macron during her victory speech, warning that Macron’s deregulation policies would lead to unjust international competition against France's business interests, mass immigration and free movement of terrorists. "The great issue in this election is the rampant globalization that is putting our civilization at risk," she said.
Defeated Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and defeated right-wing candidate Francois Fillon all urged their supporters to rally behind Macron in the second round.
French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen delivers a speech among her supporters in Henin-Beaumont, on April 23, 2017, after she goes to the run-off presidential vote (Photo by AFP).
Reactions in Europe
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman hailed Macron's success. "Good that Emmanuel Macron succeeded with his policy for a strong EU and social market economy. Wishing him all the best for the next two weeks,” the spokesman tweeted.
In Brussels, the president of European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has reacted positively to Macron’s success, expressing good wishes for him in the second round.
Markets’ relief
Following the announcement of the initial results, investors reacted positively to what the market regarded as the best of several possible outcomes.
In Asian markets, the euro soared two percent to $1.09395 when markets opened before slipping back to around $1.0886, the euro's highest level since the election of Donald Trump as the US president on November 10.
Moreover, US stock index futures rose sharply on Sunday as investors expect that Macron’s possible election will reduce the prospect of an anti-establishment market shock.
The final outcome of the French presidential poll is being anxiously monitored around the world as a sign of whether the populist tide that saw Britain vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s election in the United States is still rising or starting to ebb.
About 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers have been deployed around France to protect voters in the wake of a policeman’s killing on Thursday.

Penelope Fillon, the wife of French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party, leaves her apartment building in Paris, March 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The wife of France’s conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon was charged Tuesday with complicity in the abuse of public funds in a scandal that has engulfed her husband’s campaign.
He has already been charged in the case involving allegedly fictitious jobs as a parliamentary aide for which the Welsh-born Penelope Fillon was paid hundreds of thousands of euros.
The 61-year-old Penelope was also charged over a salary she received from a literary magazine owned by a billionaire friend of her husband’s, Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere.
She has told police she never stepped foot in the offices of the Revue des Deux Mondes, according to a report in the Journal du Dimanche weekly.
The new blow comes less than four weeks before French voters go to the polls in a two-stage election on April 23 and May 7.
Francois Fillon, whose legal woes have snowballed since “Penelopegate” broke in January, once described his wife as a stalwart companion who “has been with me in political life for 30 years... but always in the shadows.”
Revelations by the satirical and investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchaine turned a harsh media glare on a woman that no one could recall seeing at work in the halls of parliament.
Though a lawmaker employing a family member is not illegal in France, Penelope is accused of doing little for the 680,000 euros (725,000 dollars) she received in salary over a number of years.
Fillon, 63, has repeatedly claimed that he is the victim of a “political assassination.”
French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party Francois Fillon speaks during a meeting in Paris, March 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Last week, he accused Socialist President Francois Hollande of using the Finance Ministry to collect information on politicians, including his former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, which was then leaked to the press.
‘Man of integrity’
Fillon, who overcame intense pressure to quit the presidential race early this month, was once the clear favorite, but opinion polls now show him failing to get past the first round.
If the election were held today, the May 7 runoff would pit far-right leader Marine Le Pen against centrist Emmanuel Macron, polls show.
The 39-year-old Macron is currently tipped to defeat Le Pen, 48, by a wide margin.
Last week, “Penelopegate” took a new twist when financial prosecutors said they were expanding the fake jobs probe to include suspicions of forgery.
Investigators are looking at whether the Fillons forged documents to try to justify Penelope’s salary, an allegation angrily rejected by her lawyer, Pierre Cornut-Gentille.
“When this case is approached calmly and with respect for the principles of law, I am convinced the innocence of Penelope and Francois Fillon will be recognized,” Cornut-Gentille said in a statement released by the office of the presidential candidate.
Penelope had been charged with “unusual speed,” the lawyer said.
The silver-haired mother of five is now a local councilor in Solesmes, a village of 1,000 people in the Sarthe area where the couple live in the turreted manor house.
Francois Fillon, a staunch Catholic who had campaigned as a man of integrity, has also been charged for failing to declare a 2013 interest-free loan of 50,000 euros from Ladreit to a state transparency watchdog.
But a potentially even more embarrassing revelation emerged this month when the Canard Enchaine reported that Fillon had introduced a Lebanese oil pipeline builder — with whom he signed a 50,000-dollar lobbying contract — to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a business forum in St. Petersburg in 2015.

A UK air force Tornado fighter jet equipped with two Storm Shadow cruise missiles beneath it (file photo)
Britain and France have signed an agreement to jointly develop long range missiles for future use by their navies and air forces.
British Minister for military purchases Harriett Baldwin and her visiting French counterpart Laurent Collet-Billon agreed in London on Tuesday to invest €50 million ( £43 million) each to begin a three-year concept phase for the project.
Dubbed the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon program, arms manufacturer MBDA would explore options to replace and improve existing naval and air force weapons systems over the next 10 years, according to a statement by the UK ministry of defense.
The concept phase is focused on determining the designs of the future weapons and cutting the risks to a minimum before heading to the next stage in the cooperation, the statement added.
Beside costs, both sides also agreed to freely use one another’s “national technology expertise, trials and test facilities.”
“As demonstrated by having Europe’s largest defense budget, the UK is committed to European security and we will continue to collaborate on joint defense programs across the continent,” Baldwin said.
Collet-Billon also hailed the agreement, calling it “the backbone of our ‘one complex weapon’ initiative.”
Formed by a merger of French Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles, Italian Alenia Marconi Systems and British Matra BAe Dynamics, MBDA already produces Storm Shadow/ SCALP EG long-range cruise missiles for the British and French air forces.
In late February, the two sides signed a £146 million deal to upgrade the £790,000 missile, which has a range of approximately 560 kilometers (300 nautical miles).
According to the British defense ministry, France is “the UK’s most important European Ally” and together, the two countries accounted for almost half of all military spending in Europe.
As London prepares to leave the European Union (EU) following last year’s July referendum, British officials have reassured their allies in Paris that nothing can undermine their military alliance.
“This is a day-to-day, intense partnership that has never been affected by whatever French or British-bashing was going on in either country in the last five years,” said Claire Chick, head of military affairs at the London-based Franco-British Council.

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, attends a political rally in Lille, France, March 26, 2017. (Photos by Reuters)
France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says the European Union will “die” and she vows to save France from globalization.
During a Sunday campaign rally in Lille, Le Pen said that the upcoming elections will be the next stage in a global popular rebellion.
"The European Union will die because the people do not want it anymore ... arrogant and hegemonic empires are destined to perish," she added.
She stressed that the time has arrived to overcome globalists, and added that her main rivals in the French presidential elections, conservative Francois Fillon and centrist Emmanuel Macron, were both guilty of treason because of their pro-EU and pro-market stances.
Le Pen added that she would replace the EU with a different Europe which she said would be called "the Europe of the people.”
Fans cheer for Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, during a political rally in Lille, France, March 26, 2017. 
"It must be done in a rational, well-prepared way," she said in interview with Le Parisien daily. "I don't want chaos. Within the negotiation calendar I want to carry out ... the euro would be the last step because I want to wait for the outcome of elections in Germany in the autumn before renegotiating it," she added.
Recent opinion polls suggest that the far-right leader is likely to win the first round of France's election on April 23, but would lose in the run-off on May 7.
Le Pen, well known for her anti-immigrant rhetoric, became the leader of the party in 2011 and has promised to hold a referendum on France’s exit from the EU.   
She launched her election bid in February with an anti-Islam stance. She has also noted that if she is elected as president, mosques and places of Islamic teaching will be closed down.

French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux gestures as he makes a statement in Bobigny, near the capital Paris, on March 21, 2017, after he was placed under preliminary investigation for hiring his two daughters as parliamentary aides. (Photo by AFP)
France's interior minister has resigned amid an investigation into the parliamentary jobs he gave his daughters.
Bruno Le Roux announced his decision on Tuesday.
He insisted he did nothing wrong in hiring his daughters, but said he stepped down out of respect for the government and to allow the Interior Ministry to keep fighting terrorism and other security challenges.
Le Roux said the job contracts conformed "with the judicial rules of the National Assembly" and "all corresponded to work effectively carried out."
The move came a day after a TV report about his daughters' 24 temporary parliamentary jobs, and two months after a similar jobs investigation seriously damaged conservative Francois Fillon's presidential bid.

Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 presidential election, arrives for a debate organised by French private TV channel TF1 in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, France, March 20, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Centrist Emmanuel Macron solidified his status as frontrunner in France's presidential election on Monday in a televised debate during which he clashed on immigration and Europe with his main rival, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
A snap opinion poll showed Macron, a former economy minister who has never run for public office before, was seen as the most convincing among the top five contenders in a marathon debate of nearly three and a half hours that delivered no knock-outs.
The debate, and the two others that will follow ahead of the April 23 first round, are seen as key in an election in which nearly 40 percent of voters say they are not sure who to back.
Macron clashed with Le Pen when she talked about a rise of radicalism in France and said he was in favor of the burkini, a full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women that stirred much controversy in France last summer.
Opinion polls have for weeks shown Le Pen and Macron, an independent centrist who used to be Socialist President Francois Hollande’s economy minister, pulling away from the pack in an election full of twists and turns which is taking place against a backdrop of high unemployment and sluggish growth.
Twenty-nine percent of viewers thought Macron was the most convincing, ahead of firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon with 20 percent, while Le Pen and conservative Francois Fillon were tied in third place, a snap survey conducted online by Elabe pollsters towards the end of the debate showed. Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon came in last.

French public prosecutor of Paris Francois Molins (R) and head of the Paris Judiciary Police (PJ) Christian Sainte address a press conference on March 18, 2017 in Paris, following the airport attack.
Blood tests have revealed that a man, who was shot dead after taking a soldier hostage at Paris' Orly Airport, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Investigators are still trying to understand what motivated Saturday's assault by 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, which led to a major security scare and the temporary closure of the capital's second-busiest airport.
"Toxicology tests carried out on Sunday showed an alcohol level of 0.93 grams per liter in his blood, and the presence of cannabis and cocaine," said a judicial source on Sunday.
A subsequent police search of Belgacem's flat found cocaine, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Ben Belgacem, who was born in France to Tunisian parents, reportedly grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly's southern terminal on Saturday morning. 
Police officers investigate at the house of the suspect of an attack at the Paris Orly Airport. (Photo by AFP)
The attacker, who had also fired at police in a northern Paris suburb earlier that morning, was shot dead by two other soldiers after a scuffle.
Speaking on Sunday, Ben Belgacem's father insisted that his son was "not a terrorist" and that his actions were caused by drink and drugs.
"He called me at seven, eight in the morning and said, 'There you go, Papa.' He was extremely angry, even his mother couldn't understand him," he told Europe 1 radio. "He told me: 'I ask for your forgiveness. I've screwed up with a gendarme.'"
The attack at Orly comes with France still on high alert following a wave of attacks that have claimed more than 230 lives in two years.
The violence has made security a key issue in France's two-round presidential election on April 23 and May 7.

A riot police officer patrols inside Orly airport, south of Paris, as flights resume yesterday. Photo / AP
Police are questioning relatives of a man shot dead by soldiers at a Paris airport as they sought clues about why he tried to seize an assault rifle in an incident that has pushed security to the top of France's election campaign.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that the man, named as 39 -year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had shouted he was there to "die for Allah" when he tried to seize the gun from a woman air force member on patrol at Orly airport.

After throwing down a bag containing a can of petrol and putting an air pistol to the head of the soldier, he was shot three times by her colleagues.
More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant Islamist group Isis (Islamic State). These include coordinated bombings and shootings in November 2015 in Paris when 130 people were killed and scores injured.
With the country in the throes of a highly-charged election campaign before a two-round presidential election in April and May, the attacks fuelled the political debate about security.

He had been reporting regularly to police under the terms of a provisional release from custody for theft and he did not have the right to leave the country.Belgacem, who had been in and out of prison for theft and drug offences according to judicial sources, was already on the authorities' radar. They said he became a radicalised Muslim when he served a prison term several years ago for drug-trafficking.
Several hours earlier before he was killed, Belgacem had shot and wounded a police officer with his air pistol after a routine traffic stop north of Paris before fleeing, officials said.
Later he entered a bar in Vitry-sur-Seine on the other side of Paris and opened fire with his air gun without hitting anyone. He also stole a car before arriving at the airport.
Belgacem's father, who was initially detained by police but then released, denied his son had been involved in terrorism.
Police said they were questioning a brother and cousin of Belgacem and an autopsy on the dead man would be carried out.
Conservative Francois Fillon said that France was in a "situation of virtual civil war" and spoke out against a proposal to lift a state of emergency in place since the November 2015 attacks.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, running on an anti-immigration, anti-EU ticket, said the Orly attacker could have caused a "massacre".

Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris in protest to police violence, a month after a police officer was charged of rape.
The Sunday protest was led by the French Human Rights League and was attended by various other rights groups and victims of police brutality.
The league said that the rally was held to show “anger in the face of repeated police violence” and to warn the nation about “a perverted notion of public security and the protection of citizens.”
People take part in a demonstration by the families of the victims of alleged police brutality in Paris on March 19, 2017.
At the end of the march, riot police were called in to disperse the crowds of peaceful protesters who had been joined by anarchists.
Today’s protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations held in France over the rape of a young black man by police during a violent arrest in Aulnay-sous-Bois, north of Paris, in February.
One policeman has been charged with rape and three others have been charged with assault in the case. The officers have all denied the charges.
People take part in a demonstration by the families of the victims of alleged police brutality in Paris on March 19, 2017.
The 22-year-old victim sustained severe injuries and had to undergo surgery.

People wait outside Paris’ Orly airport after it was evacuated following the shooting of a man by French security forces, March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Flights have resumed at Paris’ Orly Airport one day after a man was shot and killed while attempting to stage a shooting attack.
Officials announced on Sunday that schedules at Orly, which is Paris’ second-biggest airport and serves domestic and international flights, were returning to “normal.”
On Saturday, a 39-year-old French national identified as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, carrying a petrol can in his backpack, grabbed a soldier’s gun and fired shots before he was gunned down by security forces.
One soldier was reportedly slightly wounded in the incident, but no one else was harmed.
Severe chaos was also caused in flight schedules for several hours following the shooting.
French anti-terror investigators, who took into custody Belgacem’s father, brother, and cousin following the incident, released the father but held the other two as they sought to build a profile of the assailant.
An autopsy is to be carried to determine if the attacker was under influence as a small amount of cocaine was found during a search of his apartment in a northern Paris suburb.
Police said Belgacem had had a record of criminal activities and had been known to authorities. Since September last year, he had been under judicial monitoring. He had also shown signs of radicalization, although there was no indication immediately that he had traveled abroad.
The Saturday shooting comes as France remains in a state of emergency over terrorist attacks. The emergency state was initially imposed in November 2015, when terrorist attacks in and around Paris killed 130 people and injured 350 others.
The emergency rule has been extended several times because the French government believes the risk of terror attacks remains high.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin attends a press conference after the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Baden-Baden, southern Germany, on March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin regrets that a meeting of world financial leaders failed to reach satisfactory conclusions on climate change and trade.
Sapin highlighted the successes of the G20 meeting in Germany such as a determination to fight tax avoidance, clamp down on terrorist financing and strengthen private investment in Africa.
"I regret nevertheless that our discussions today were not able to reach a satisfactory conclusion on two priorities that are absolutely essential in today's world," he said in a statement.
He cited the fight against climate change and trade, saying France was convinced of the need for "regulated free trade" that was profitable for everybody.
Finance ministers from the world's biggest economies on Saturday dropped an anti-protectionist pledge and a vow on action against climate change, after Washington refused to sign up to the commitment.
After a two-day meeting, ministers from the G20 nations said they were "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies" but failed to spell out a pledge to reject protectionism in a closing statement.

This photo shows a general view of the room for the meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Baden-Baden, southern Germany, on March 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)   
The conspicuous omission came amid a push by US President Donald Trump to pursue an "America First" policy that includes penalizing companies that manufacture abroad by heavily taxing their products.
Since taking office, Trump has withdrawn the US from a trans-Pacific free trade pact and attacked export giants China and Germany over their massive trade surplus.
His stance has sparked alarm among Washington's trading partners, and prompted Beijing to issue a stern warning against sparking a trade war.
References to action against climate change under the Paris Accord were also scrapped from the G20 statement unlike at a previous summit last year.
Sources said the US delegation could not commit as they had not been given instruction from Washington to do so at the meeting in the western German spa town of Baden-Baden.

French Socialist Party presidential candidate, Benoit Hamon, gives a press conference to present his presidential program in Paris on March 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
French Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon continued to lose support in an opinion poll on Saturday that showed centrist Emmanuel Macron likely to win the presidential election slated for May 7, 2017.
In a BVA poll for Orange, Hamon fell 1 percentage point in a week to 12.5 percent, coming fourth in the first round behind far-right leader Marine Le Pen with 26 percent, Macron with 25 and conservative Francois Fillon with 19.5.
Hamon, who unveiled his full manifesto this week, has slid 4.5 points since the beginning of February, and is now just 0.5 points ahead of firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Both candidates have categorically ruled out pulling out of the race, meaning a divided left is likely to be eliminated from the crucial second-round runoff for the first time since Le Pen's father Jean-Marie's shock second place in 2002.
Fillon has been losing support since becoming embroiled in a scandal over employing his wife as his parliamentary assistant. Macron is seen in the BVA poll making it to the runoff and defeating Le Pen with 62 percent to her 38.

A letter bomb has exploded at the French office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), injuring an employee.
Police on Thursday evacuated people from the building near the Arc de Triomphe monument after they received reports that the IMF staffer had suffered injuries to her hands and face following the opening of a letter which exploded.
The head of the Paris police force said the explosion was caused by a homemade device.
"It was something that was fairly homemade," Michel Cadot told reporters.
He added that the IMF had received "a few threats in recent days" but could not say whether there was any link.
Paris swiftly reacted to the incident, with President Francois Holande calling it a “terror attack." Hollande also said the blast showed that "we are still targeted."
Police stand outside the International Monetary Fund office in Paris, where an envelope exploded on March 16, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
The IMf chief, Christine Lagarde, said the attack was a “cowardly act.”
"I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF's resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate," Lagarde said as she is in Frankfurt to attend a conference ahead of the Group of 20 finance ministers' meeting in Baden-Baden. 
There was no claim of responsibility for the move and there is no indication yet whether there is any link between this package and one sent to the Germany Finance Ministry yesterday. Security sources, however, fear that the letter could have been sent by a far-right group in Greece, a country which has been slapped with severe austerity measures by the IMF and other lenders.
Police and a soldier block the access to the International Monetary Fund office, where an envelope exploded in Paris, France, March 16, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
The Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei said Thursday that it had sent a parcel bomb to the German Finance Ministry in Berlin.
“We claim responsibility for sending a booby-trapped parcel to the German finance minister,” said the radical, nationalist group in a statement posted on an anti-establishment website.
German police also confirmed that the "explosive" package was discovered at the office building of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. The German minister was due to host a meeting with US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Friday.
Germany, as the leading economic power in the European Union, has been very tough on Greece as Athens struggles to secure new funds from the lenders, namely the IMF and two EU creditors, to pay its mountain of debts and prevent a default. The IMF has repeatedly asked the EU to reduce Greece’s debt and help the country get on its feet although it has refused to grant more privileges to Athens, including less pension cuts.

In this image from TV, police cordon off the area as people gather to view the nearby high school, following a shooting in Grasse, southern France, Thursday March 16, 2017. (BFM via AP)
Shooting at a high school in southeastern French town of Grasse has left at least eight people injured, the country's Interior Ministry spokesman says.
Speaking on BFM TV, Pierre-Henry Brandet said on Thursday that one person had been also arrested. 
Another Interior Ministry official told Reuters that three people had been injured, including the school's headmaster.
The incident took place on Thursday when an intruder burst into the Tocqueville high school and opened fire, said a source close to the investigation.
It was too early to say whether the shooting was a terrorist attack, the source added.
However, the French government issued nationwide alert following the incident while local emergency services advised residents to stay at home.
According to education authorities all schools in the town have been locked down.
A police source said one man had been arrested over the shooting and a second was on the run.
Later reports indicated that a teenage student had opened fire on at the high school injuring several people, including the headmaster. The student apparently conducted the attack after watching American-style mass shooting videos, the Interior Ministry said.
Local officials noted that the incident had nothing to do with terrorism, adding that the student, who also carried two handguns and two grenades, was arrested at the school.
The shooting in Grasse comes as France remains in a state of emergency initially imposed in November 2015. 
The emergency rule has already been extended several times, because the French government believes the risk of terror attacks still remains high.
The state of emergency was adopted after terror attacks in and around Paris on November 15, 2015. The assaults, which were claimed by the Daesh terrorist group, left 130 People dead and 350 more injured.

Francois Fillon has been given preliminary charges in an investigation of taxpayer-funded jobs his wife and children received but allegedly never performed. Photo / AP
French presidential candidate Francois Fillon has been placed under formal investigation over allegations of diversion of public funds and misappropriation of money.
The prosecutor had been conducting a preliminary probe into allegations that Fillon's wife Penelope received more than 900,000 ($1.38 million) for a "fake job" as parliamentary assistant to her husband and his successor over several years.
She also faces allegations that she was unfairly paid 100,000 by a magazine called La Revue des Deux Mondes, owned by a close friend of her husband, for writing a handful of short articles. Two of their children are suspected of being being paid more than 80,000 for fake jobs as parliamentary aides.
Penelope Fillon is due to be summoned by judges later this month.
Both have denied any wrongdoing.
Francois Fillon is also under investigation for "failure to make compulsory declarations to the higher authority for transparency in public life".

He was initially due to meet judges overnight.This concerns an undeclared loan of 50,000 from a friend.
But his lawyer, Antonin Levy, said: "The hearing [to place him under investigation] was brought forward so that it could take place in calm conditions."
In the French justice system, being placed under investigation does not confirm wrongdoing but means investigators have serious grounds for pursuing the matter.

Benoit Loeuillet, a top official of France’s far-right National Front party in the southeastern city of Nice
A regional official of France’s far-right National Front (FN) party has been suspended after he denied the extent of the Holocaust.
The FN's head in southeast France said on Wednesday that the party had decided to suspend Benoit Loeuillet, the party's top official in the southeastern city of Nice, pending further investigation. The official said Loeuillet could face disciplinary proceedings and even expulsion from the party.
The decision came after Loeuillet, in a documentary for French television, denied that millions of Jews were killed during World War II.
“I don't think there were that many deaths. There weren't six million ... There weren't mass murders as it's been said,” Loeuillet reportedly said in the documentary, which is to be aired later Wednesday.
The far-right politician later said that he was not against the reality of the Holocaust and accused those preparing the film of “cleverly” editing his remarks.
"I understand the emotion (the comments) can cause as they are presented, cleverly edited. But I am the opposite of the portrait of me that this documentary seeks to paint," Loeuillet said, adding that he would sue the film’s director.
Marine Le Pen, the FN's leader, seeks to win the first round of French presidential election in late April. She has struggled over the past years to revise the public perception about the far right and its stance on Semitism.
French far-right Front National (FN) party candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen delivers a speech during a campaign rally on March 11, 2017 in Deols, central France. (Photo by AFP)
Le Pen’s father, a co-founder of the party, was a fierce anti-Semitist and had faced convictions over his description of Holocaust as a "detail of history". The FN strongly counts on its base of support in France’s southeast, where Loeuillet comes from.
Polls suggest Le Pen has a relatively high chance of making it to the second round of presidential elections in early May, although they say she would lose that round to either a conservative or an independent centrist.

The photo taken on March 4, 2017 in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, shows Francois Fillon, the French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party, gesturing as he presents his program. (Photo by AFP)
Judges in France have filed charges against presidential candidate Francois Fillon as part of an investigation into the former prime minister’s alleged payment from tax-payer funds to family members for fake jobs.
Officials in the national financial prosecutor's office said on Tuesday that judges had filed the charges earlier in the day.
Fillon had earlier said he would appear before judges on Wednesday but the decision was apparently moved up six weeks before the conservative politician plans to contest the first round of the presidential election, which will fall on April 23.
Prosecutors said the charges against Fillon included improper declaration of assets, misusing public funds, receiving money from the misuse of public funds and complicity in misusing those funds.
Filing preliminary charges in the French law would mean that judges are seeking more time to investigate the suspected wrongdoing and then decide whether to send the case to trial. In Fillon's case, it also means that magistrates have strong reasons to believe he had indeed paid members of the family for fake jobs in the parliament when he was a lawmaker.
Media reports say Fillon paid generously to his wife and children for works that were never performed. Family members say they did perform the jobs.
The photo taken on March 4, 2017 in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, shows Francois Fillon, the French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party, looking on as he presents his program. (Photo by AFP)
Fillon has repeatedly said he did not do anything wrong as he was legally entitled to hiring his relatives. He initially said he would leave the presidential race if charges were brought against him. However, he later said campaigning would continue.
"There is only one thing that exists in a democracy: it's the people's will. The French will choose," he said during a news conference on Monday, adding that there was no plan B in the Republican Party to replace him.
The wrongdoing allegations have badly hit Fillon's image as a front-runner in the presidential campaign. He has lost his place in polls to Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist candidate. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen also aspires to reach the second round of the votes on May 7.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party (Photo by AFP)
The leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has rejected claims of joining an alliance with French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen to take apart the European Union.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Monday that PiS was not seeking a breakup of the EU as proposed by Le Pen and called any notion of a so-called Polexit "absurd."
"We have about as much as common with Mrs Le Pen as we have with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," said the right-wing leader while addressing reporters in Warsaw.
The comments came after reports emerged that Le Pen had asked right-wing leaders in Poland and Hungary to forge an alliance to "take apart the European Union."
On Monday, Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper said Le Pen had personally invited right-wing leaders in the eastern European country to contribute to an anti-EU alliance. 
The leader of France’s National Front had raised the issue during a meeting with European media outlets last week in Paris.
She had said that there was determination in the right and far-right in Europe, especially in France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and even in the United Kingdom, to reclaim sovereignty from the EU, noting these countries had “great ideas” in common.
French far-right Front National (FN) party candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen delivers a speech during a campaign rally on March 11, 2017 in Deols, central France. (Photo by AFP)
Kaczynski, however, denied any suggestion that Poland was planning an exit from the EU like Britain, insisting that his country would remain firmly rooted in the EU.  
"EU must be wholly preserved ... but with deep changes that will strengthen the position of nation states,” he said.
Le Pen’s friendly gestures toward Poland’s right-wing groups come amid a standoff between Warsaw and Brussels over the re-election of former Polish premier Donald Tusk as the EU president.
Poland blocked the final statement of the EU summit on Friday to protest Tusk’s re-election. The ruling PiS party accuses Tusk of interfering in Poland’s domestic affairs, saying he has violated the rule of "political neutrality."
Le Pen said last week that Warsaw was quite right in accusing the EU of political meddling.
Poland has faced mass protests and threats of sanctions by the EU over a series of measures PiS has adopted since winning power in 2015. The party says Tusk, a centrist, has backed Poland’s opposition over the past years.

French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron gestures as speaks during an event in Paris, March 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A new poll has predicted for the first time that France’s centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron would defeat far-right contender Marine Le Pen in the initial round of the French presidential election next month.
The results of a poll conducted by the Harris Interactive on Thursday revealed that Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, would garner 26 percent of the vote on April 23, a six-point gain in the course of two weeks, and National Front (NF) party’s leader Le Pen would secure 25 percent of the ballots, a two-point loss during the same period.
The poll, however, reflected the findings of previous surveys in predicting results in a potential runoff. In that scenario, the poll projected, Macron would gain 65 percent compared to Le Pen’s 35.
A former investment banker, Macron said in a speech on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Wednesday that he would designate a woman as the country’s premier if he won the keys to the Elysee Palace.
A growing list of supporters from both the left and the center have rallied behind the young Macron. A major boost to his campaign was received on Wednesday when Paris’ former mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, who is a Socialist, endorsed Macron, calling him “a reformist, a European, and a realist.”
Delanoe, who was Paris’ mayor from 2001 to 2014, argued that he supported Macron since it was vital to “throw the most weight possible behind the candidate who can beat Madam Le Pen in the first round.”
French far-right Front National (FN) party candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen gestures during a debate in Puteaux, near Paris, March 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Le Pen, well known for her anti-refugee rhetoric, became the leader of the NF in 2011 and has promised to hold a referendum on France’s exit from the European Union (EU) if elected president.
Although no survey has so far projected a victory for her over the pro-EU Macron or conservative candidate Francois Fillon — her other rival — she is hoping to emulate the surprise success of Donald Trump in the US presidential election last year.
She launched her election bid earlier in the month on an anti-Islam platform. She has said that if elected president, she would close down mosques and places of Islamic teaching.
On Monday, outgoing President Francois Hollande said that he would “do everything” in his power to prevent Le Pen from becoming president.
Meanwhile, Le Pen and Fillon are both facing allegations of misusing public money. Both have, however, denied the allegations.

Rhinoceros Vince, centre, at the Thoiry zoo, west of Paris.
For the past decade, poachers have killed rhinoceroses in the wild and in protected reserves around the world at alarming rates, threatening the survival of four of the world's five rhino species.
The poaching is driven by a demand for rhino horns in southeast Asia that has grown nearly insatiable; so much so, experts say, that any living rhino - anywhere in the world - is now at risk of being killed.
Perhaps no rhino death illustrates that threat more forcefully than the killing of Vince, a 4-year-old male white rhino who was slaughtered this week inside his enclosure at a zoo outside Paris. The rhino - discovered by his keeper at the Thoiry Zoological Park today - now holds the ominous distinction of likely being the first rhino to be killed by poachers inside a zoo, experts said.
"This is the first time we've heard of it," said Crawford Allen, senior director of Traffic North America, a regional office of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

"It's an incredibly shocking and distressing occurrence," he added. "It's also a game-changer for zoos. They've woken up today and realised their world has changed if they have live rhinos in their collection.""It's certainly the first time it's happened in Europe.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the Thoiry Zoological Park, which is 50km west of Paris, said its "entire staff is extremely shocked" by Vince's killing. The animal was born in a zoo in the Netherlands in 2012 and arrived at Thoiry in March 2015, the zoo said.
The zoo pinned the killing on criminals who forced open an outer gate outside the rhinoceros building overnight. The intruders then forced open a second metal door and broke open "an intermediate inner door" that allowed them access to the animal lodges, the zoo said.
Police told Reuters that Vince was shot three times in the head. One of the animal's horns was removed, probably with a chain saw, the zoo said.
"His second horn was only partially cut, which suggests that the criminals were disturbed or that their equipment proved defective," the zoo said. "The other two white rhinoceros living in Thoiry, Gracie, 37, and Bruno, 5, escaped the massacre and are safe."
"Vince was found this morning by [his] caretaker, who is very attached to the animals she cares for, and is deeply affected," the zoo added. "This odious act was perpetrated despite the presence of five members of the zoological staff living on the spot and surveillance cameras."

Just over a decade ago, a rhino horn was just a rhino horn - an innocuous piece of animal body armour made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up human hair and fingernails. Now a rhino horn is something else entirely for a new generation of wealthy buyers in China and Vietnam: a highly-coveted status symbol and a cancer-curing miracle drug and aphrodisiac whose legend is rooted in pseudoscience.
Depending on the species and the market, experts said, rhino horns are worth more than their weight in gold. Protected wildlife is the fourth largest form of criminal traffic in the world behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Global trade in rhino horn is banned by a UN convention, and its sale is illegal in France, according to Reuters, but as little as a kilo of rhino horn was worth about US$54,000 on the black market in 2015.
By the early 1990s, the southern white rhino population plummeted to a few as 50 animals left in the wild, according to the conservation group Save the Rhino. The group said the animals' numbers have increased to about 20,000 after conservation efforts, but those numbers are once again falling due to a new wave of poaching since 2008.
According to new data published by the government of South Africa, 1054 rhinos were poached in 2016. That number is down from a year earlier, when 1175 rhinos were poached, a 10.3 per cent decline. There have been more than 1000 rhinos poached in South Africa for four consecutive years, the WWF notes.

"For 2016 there were a staggering 2883 instances of poaching-related activities (such as poaching camps, contacts, crossings, sightings, tracks and shots fired) in the park, compared to 2466 recorded in the same period in 2015," the South African Government reported.
"This is an increase of 16.9 per cent. These criminal gangs are armed to the teeth, well-funded and part of transnational syndicates [that] will stop at nothing to get their hands on rhino horn."
Experts said the skyrocketing value of the horns led wildlife conservationists to begin warning several years ago about the likelihood of captive rhinos being targeted by poachers. The warning signs, they said, came in the form of a spate of rhino horn thefts from private collections and exhibitions.
With rhino killings increasing dramatically and private collections under threat, many experts decided it was "only a matter of time" before a killing inside a zoo occurred.
Today, the warnings became all too real.
"I wish I was surprised, but these animals are so brutally targeted," said Cece Sieffert, deputy director at the International Rhino Foundation, which supports rhino conservation in African and Asia.

"Wildlife crime is run by organised crime syndicates with very complex networks of middlemen moving rhino horns from Africa and India to networks in Southeast Asia. With the poaching crisis at such an alarming rate, it was sadly only a matter of time before these animals in zoos and other protected areas were targeted."
"It's absolutely heartbreaking for the keepers who devote their lives to taking care of these incredible animals," she added.
While the idea of killing a rhino inside a zoo may sound more daunting than selling heroin, Allen said that's not necessarily the way criminal gangs see things.
"It's really a no-brainer for these criminal groups," he said. "It's a low-risk, high-profit enterprise for them, and they can make as much money robbing a bank as they can killing a rhino with far, far less security."
The attack in France comes two weeks after two armed men stormed a rhino orphanage in South Africa, according to the Dodo. The men assaulted members of the staff before holding the group hostage and killing two baby rhinos for their horns, according to a statement posted on Facebook by the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage.
Suzie Ellis, executive director of International Rhino Fund, said the boldness of the latest attacks - which follows museums and private collections being targeted - is a sign that "zoological facilities need to take serious measures to keep their rhinos safe."
Allen said zoos need to do risk assessments as soon as possible. He also recommended upgrading security equipment to include thermal imaging cameras that can automatically identify humans, as well as hiring more security guards.
"The people who targeted the zoo in France have probably already checked out other zoos that they can target," he said. "Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a horrific wake-up call for things to change."


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