France's Hollande hits back at scandal-hit Fillon's claims

Fillon, who has slid from frontrunner to third in the race following "fake jobs" allegations, told French TV late Thursday that President Francois Hollande had headed a "secret cell" that was responsible for leaks against him.

France's Hollande hits back at scandal-hit Fillon's claims

World Bulletin / News Desk

France's leader on Friday lashed out at presidential candidate Francois Fillon, saying the rightwinger lacked "dignity" after claiming the state had orchestrated a campaign to smear him.

It was a "scandal involving the state", said the 63-year-old former prime minister.

"The press has been flinging mud at me for two months now," Fillon told France 2, speaking as the first round of the two-stage election looms on April 23.

Fillon said that, according to a book out this week by "journalists who are far from being my friends", Hollande had obtained the contents of wiretaps linked to judicial investigations "which is totally illegal".

"We were looking for a secret cell and we found it," Fillon said, referring to the alleged source behind a slew of accusations of wrongdoing that have mainly been made in the Canard Enchaine, an investigative and satirical newspaper.

Hollande responded furiously to Fillon's accusations, saying he had exceeded the bounds of "dignity and responsibility" with his claims.

"I don't want to enter the electoral debate... but there is a dignity, a responsibility to respect," the president told French radio. 

"Fillon is beyond that now."

French prosecutors have charged Fillon with several offences over accusations first made in the Canard Enchaine that he paid his wife Penelope 680,000 euros ($725,000) over 15 years for a fake job as his parliamentary aide.

It was revealed this week that the investigation has widened to include claims that the Fillons faked documents to support their case that she in fact performed duties to earn her salary.

Fillon has insisted throughout he did nothing wrong by employing his wife and also two of his children and has repeatedly claimed that he is the victim of a "political assassination".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Mart 2017, 17:42