French 'Frexit' champion held over sex assault claims

·1-min read
Ex-presidential candidate Francois Asselineau dismissed the allegations as 'slander'

Police have arrested the head of a fringe anti-European Union party, former French presidential candidate Francois Asselineau, over claims of sexual assault and harassment, prosecutors said.

Asselineau, 63, fronts the Popular Republican Union (UPR), which has campaigned for France to leave the EU and NATO alliance.

His arrest could bury his hopes of another stab at the presidency in 2022 after his first run for the top job in 2017, during which he won a mere 0.92 percent of the vote.

Asselineau has been under investigation for sexual assault and harassment, both sexual and non-sexual, since May 2020, the Paris prosecutor's office told AFP late Wednesday.

Two former UPR employees filed complaints against Asselineau, who has dismissed the allegations as "slander".

His aides insisted on Wednesday that the claims were false.

France has been rocked by a wave of sex assault allegations against establishment figures in politics and the arts.

Other politicians to have faced accusations of sexual assault include Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and former environment minister Nicolas Hulot. Both men denied the allegations. Neither has been charged with a crime.

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