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Le Pen and Castaner face off. BFM-TV screenshot

Le Pen accuses Macron of running parallel security service

Marine Le Pen accused the Elysée Palace of lying during the hearings of the Commission of Enquiry to get to the bottom of the Benalla scandal in France.

Published: July 25, 2018, 5:55 am

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    Paris

    “So the director of public policy, Mr. Alain Gibelin, confirmed that the 15-day suspension that struck Alexandre Benalla never existed. This is a very serious lie by the Elysée. One more,” Le Pen tweeted during the hearing. The Elysée had pretended that Alexandre Benalla, President Macron’s bodyguard, was suspended after caught on camera assaulting a peaceful demonstrator.

    She said members of the top administration were being put under pressure to cover up the scandal.

    Christophe Castaner, head of Macron’s political movement, denied that there had been a cover-up and said Macron had ordered a review of the structure of his team and further sanctions to be taken.

    On Thursday, the spokesman for the presidency, Bruno Roger-Petit, had explained that since the dismissal of Benalla in May, his duties had been reduced. However, many photos have shown that he was still at the heart of the presidential team on the ground.

    On Monday morning, Castaner tried to deflect the media attention away from the president again, giving his explanation on BFM-TV. Castaner claimed that the functions of Alexandre Benalla were only “logistic” and that on the victory bus of France’s Soccer World Champions “he was in charge of luggage”.

    But Le Pen responded to his fraudulent claims by suggesting that Benalla – particularly under-qualified for his job – carried a weapon. “President’s Security Coordinator with Military Command and GSPR or luggage porter? You have to know Mr. Castaner,” Le Pen said.

    The Security Group for the Presidency of the Republic, Groupe de sécurité de la présidence de la République (GSPR) is the security unit created in 1983 in charge of the safety of the President of France. Le Pen pointed out that Macron in fact had created a new unit for Benalla outside the law.

    “The president will speak when he has the full picture” Castaner told the media when asked why Macron has been hiding from the press. “The image is very bad, I am in no way trying to minimise it. The French people have been shocked,” he added.

    Opposition lawmakers are demanding to know how a Moroccan who was neither a police officer nor a member of the security services came to play a central role in protecting France’s president. Also, why he was allowed to return to his duties after an assault without sanction, during which he impersonated a police officer?

    A close friend of Emmanuel Macron told French weekly Le Point: “His skills are probably not a good explanation [for his position]: Benalla had subordinate functions, but he lived in the intimacy of the presidential couple. So he had to know things that gave him real status with the president, far superior to his status on paper.”

    Benalla was indeed on all the trips of the Macron couple. He was present during their holidays in Marseille in August 2017, but also during their stay in La Mongie, in the Pyrenees, in December 2017.

    The source told Le Point that Macron is extremely paranoid and has a tight circle of only ten people of which Benalla was part.

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