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Alexandre Benalla; Caught assaulting a citizen. Screenshot from TF1

Has Benalla switched sides?

Since his ouster from the official entourage of the French President of the Republic, Alexandre Benalla seems to have been conducting rather intense diplomatic activities, in an effort to take advantage of an address book he compiled while he was working for the head of state, Emannuel Macron.

Published: January 8, 2019, 9:45 am

    Paris

    According to a Libération report dated January 6, Alexandre Benalla’s address book has become more and more “eclectic”.

    The former official of the Elysée spent several weeks, between September and October 2018, with a Syrian businessman, Mohamad Izzat Khatab, in an apartment on Avenue Montaigne in Paris.

    According to Libération, the entourage of Alexander Benalla has denied it, but the link with Mohamad Izzar Khatab has been fully established. A snapshot captured by Libération shows Benalla with a smile, next to the Syrian businessman.

    “The origin of Izzat Khatab’s fortune is as troubling as his activities. Officially, man has become rich in the phosphate and oil industry. In Syria, he was close to Bassel al-Assad, brother of the current tyrant,” Libération claimed.

    Mohamad Izzar Khatab is thus presented as a man immersed in a “desperate quest” of social recognition, collecting, on the Instagram social network, selfies with public or political personalities.

    This new revelation seems to confirm that since his ousting by the presidency of the Republic, Alexandre Benalla has enjoyed intense diplomatic relations, capitalizing on his proximity to the halls of power.

    In early September 2018, he met Alexandre Djouhri, a close friend of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, in a luxury hotel in London. Arrested in London on January 7 after having been the subject of a European arrest warrant, this controversial businessman is suspected of having participated, in 2007, in the Libyan financing of the presidential campaign of the former president of the Republic.

    Three months later, in December, Alexandre Benalla traveled to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, a few days before an official visit by Emmanuel Macron. According to Le Monde, which quoted “concordant sources”, the passage of the former chargé de mission at the Elysée Palace was not conducted with any discretion.

    One of them reported that he had “come with half a dozen people, by private plane, paying fees by credit card”, including the costs of his stay at the Hilton in the capital.

    Meanwhile, he was seen in late November, talking with Richard Ferrand at length in a restaurant of the 8th arrondissement of Paris. “Only by chance,” had the two met, according to a member of the Lagardère group, owner of the newspaper.

    Ferrand is longtime member of the Socialist Party, but became leader of Macron’s La République En Marche group in the French National Assembly in June 2017.

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