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Macron sues photojournalist for invasion of privacy

French President Emmanuel Macron in pilot's uniform visit an airbase at Istres last month
French President Emmanuel Macron in pilot's uniform visit an airbase at Istres last month Reuters/Arnold Jerocki/Pool

French President Emmanuel Macron is suing a photojournalist who tried to snap him while on holiday with his wife Brigitte in the southern French city of Marseille. Macron accuses the man of invading his privacy but the photographer claims he spent several hours in police cells for simply doing his job.


Macron has filed a legal complaint for harassment and invasion of privacy against the photographer, whose name has not been made public.

His aides say the reporter chased the president's vehicle on a motorbike on several occasions and intruded into the grounds of the luxury villa where he and his wife are spending their holidays.

Six hours in cells

The photographer tells a different story.

His problems began on Saturday, he told VSD magazine, when he and some colleagues followed the presidential convoy after it left the temporary residence.

Security officers stopped them and, after checking their identity papers, called the police who took them to the police station, holding them for two hours.

The next day, he says, the publication of a press dispatch on the presidential couple's holidays led him to believe he might have the chance of taking photos of them.

But when he turned up at the holiday home a security officer told him there would be no pictures, adding "We're not under the previous presidencies" and saying he would also be calling TV channels to tell them to remove their cameras.

The presidential office denies putting pressure on the broadcasters.

The security officer later called the police, threatening to have the photographer detained for 48 hours.

He was in fact taken to the police station, where he was kept for six hours, and claims that police officers demanded to see the contents of his camera's memory card and his computer.

"It was intimidation," he told VSD. "The aim was clearly to frighten me."

Macron's media management

Since his election, Macron has kept the media at arm's length, avoiding spontaneous interchanges with reporters.

A much-viewed video showed him on a bicycle refusing to talk to a reporter who was running beside him, in another he told a journalist, who asked for comments on various allegations against government ministers, "The president's role is not giving quotes."

When he decided not to give the now traditional Bastille Day presidential TV interview, an adviser reportedly told journalists that his thoughts were "too complex" for the format.

Right at the beginning of his term, in a speech to both houses of parliament Macron called on the media to stop "the incessant quest for scandal", an appeal that has not prevented coverage of a number of alleged stories that have proved embarrassing for the government.

The carefully staged photo-opportunities during which the president has refused to comment on inconvenient subjects, along withd appeals to members of his Republic on the Move to use social media rather than the traditional press, have led to accusations of business-style media management.

The strategy does not seem to be working very well.

After winning the presidential election with a hefty majority, Macron has seen his standing in the polls drop with a rapidity unprecedented among post-war French presidents.

His popularity rating now stands at 36 percent, 10 points lower than his predecessor François Hollande at the same stage of his term.

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