Alexandre Benalla with the Macron couple. YouTube
Paris

Season 2 of the Benalla Affair: Diplomatic passports and Yellow hearts

The disgraced former employee of President Emannuel Macron confirmed that he still has contact with his former boss who asks him for advice on various issues.

Published: January 1, 2019, 6:45 am

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    Alexandre Benalla also gave details on the use of his diplomatic passport.

    In an interview with Mediapart published on December 31, Benalla said he continued to exchange views with Emmanuel Macron regularly via encrypted telegram mail.

    Long after his dismissal from the Elysée Palace in July 2018, AFP obtained a copy of a letter on December 28 in which the former presidential adviser – a Moroccan national – admitted that he had “regular exchanges” with “certain members of the presidency”.

    The presidency has denied any contact with the former bodyguard. In fact, the Elysée accused Alexander Benalla of spreading “a whole bundle of untruths and approximations” and told AFP that the bodyguard was out for “revenge for his dismissal for serious misconduct”.

    The Foreign Ministry also denounced the “false” and “fanciful” remarks by Alexandre Benalla. The Quai d’Orsay claimed that the bodyguard had “not benefited from any particular indulgence” on their part and that “several steps” have been taken by the Ministry to retrieve the diplomatic passports of the former close collaborator of the French President.

    According to Benalla Emmanuel Macron has taken his advice, particularly on the Yellow Vest crisis, and he claims to have evidence of these conversations. “It will be very hard to deny it because all these exchanges are on my cell phone. We exchange views on various topics. It’s often about ‘how do you see things?’ It may also relate to Yellow Vests, considerations on so-and-so or on security issues,” says the former aide to the President of the Republic.

    He even told Mediapart: “I have a little Yellow heart.”

    French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Wikipedia

    Recent revelations by online media about the use of a diplomatic passport for business trips to Africa by Alexandre Benalla have surfaced. After these revelations, the Foreign Ministry said it approached the public prosecutor who has opened an investigation into the “illegal use” of diplomatic passports.

    Benalla recently made several trips to Africa and to Israel, and claims to have reported directly to the President or his entourage about his encounters: “I explain that I saw such person, I detail the remarks that were reported to me and the kind of remarks. After that, they do what they want. Including the President of the Republic, who is informed in real time.”

    The presidential palace however insisted on December 25 that Alexander Benalla was “not an official or unofficial emissary” of the presidency.

    The former bodyguard is adamant about his relationship with the presidency: “I am an outside element that wants good things for the guy [Emmanuel Macron]… I could have slammed the door and moved on. But I continue to be solicited, so I keep responding […] It upsets a number of people, who are powerful and who act as if the president was under curatorship. They make him do stupid bullshit.”

    Benalla has detailed the conditions in which his personal belongings were returned to him, including his famous diplomatic passports: “I returned part of my belongings following an email that I received from the general Bio-Farina [military commander of the Elysée] around July 30, who asked me to contact his deputy, a commander. At the end of August, I dropped everything, including diplomatic passports.

    “How can they say that it did not exist? In September, they called me to say ‘Alex, we still have a box of yours with business matters that you have to recover’. When I go to the corner of Avenue Gabriel and rue de l’Elysée to recover these effects in early October, there is in a plastic bag containing a checkbook, keys and … diplomatic passports.”

    When Mediapart asked him why this restitution took place on a street corner, Alexandre Benalla replied: “Because I am like a plague victim.”

    He denied that the president himself had ordered the plastic bag to be given to his former bodyguard.

    “If you do not want me to use these passports, all you have to do is disable them and put them in files.” He said he has used the passports to enter “a dozen countries” since autumn: “When you travel abroad with a diplomatic passport, the Embassy of France is aware that you arrive.”

    Surprisingly, the Elysée denied on December 31 that it handed any passports to Alexandre Benalla.

    The Paris prosecutor’s office meanwhile opened a preliminary investigation on December 29, notably for breach of trust, concerning the two diplomatic passports as Benalla was no longer in office at the Élysée.

    According to a statement from Prosecutor Rémy Heitz, the passports were seized on December 28 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, after the press leaked information on the recent use of a diplomatic passport by the former collaborator of Macron.

    The recent revelations by both Mediapart and Le Monde that Benalla continued to travel with diplomatic passports, sparked what might be called Season 2 of the Benalla Affair, a saga that started last summer.

    The latter had affirmed, under oath on 19 September, before the commission of inquiry of the Senate, that he had left these travel documents in his office at the Elysée.

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