French police arrested a Russian dissident artist and his girlfriend in connection with a sex video that brought down President Emmanuel Macron’s political ally. Activist Petr Pavlensky had claimed the responsibility for releasing the video that forced Benjamin Griveaux to pull out from the Paris mayor candidacy.
The police held the artist and his girlfriend, Alexandra de Taddeo, for questioning over the tape that was released on social media. The couple has reportedly been arrested over the charges of invasion of privacy and distribution of personal photographs without consent, officials said.
It is believed that de Taddeo had received the video in 2018 and media reports suggest that she was allegedly having an affair with Griveaux when the clip was made. Pavlensky released the video to apparently expose the “big hypocrisy” of Griveaux who was putting the family at the forefront of his campaign.
The video forced Griveaux to abruptly call off his campaign and France’s Health Minister Agnes Buzyn was named as a new candidate. After Buzyn's name was announced, she said, “I am doing this with my heart, with commitment ... I’m doing it to win”.
After the video was released on social media, politicians across the party line condemned the act saying private lives should be respected. While Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon called the act “odious”, far-right leader Marine Le Pen suggested that Griveaux should not have quit over the incident.
Pavlensky, who sought asylum in France in 2017, was detained on February 15 in a separate case of an alleged brawl in Paris involving "wilful violence with a weapon". He has been known in Russia for his radical performances and even set ablaze the door of the headquarters of Russia’s chief security agency FSB in 2015. Pavlensky’s associates even released a video on social media of him standing next to the burning door.
(With inputs from agencies)