Lawyers for Sarkozy filed a request with a Paris court for an emergency injunction aimed at preventing further publication of hundreds of hours of conversations and discussions with officials which were recorded by a political advisor, Patrick Buisson, without the couple's knowledge.
The move will inevitably fuel speculation the tapes, which are thought to contain hundreds of hours of Sarkozy's private conversations with Bruni and close aides, could contain a seriously compromising "smoking gun"
It appears someone close to Buisson passed the tapes to the reporters, sparking the scandal that has already been dubbed “Sarkoleaks”, reported news site Atlantico, which revealed additional recordings on Wednesday.
Reports in France on Thursday said Buisson has also filed a complaint for theft, in relation to the recordings.
Atlantico’s cache includes a February 26, 2011 meeting in which a discussion about real estate leads into Sarkozy's ex-supermodel wife Carla Bruni making fun of her husband’s lackluster earnings, even as France's head of state.
After Sarkozy notes the couple have access to three state-owned apartments as well as a rental house they are paying for, Bruni gently mocks her husband, saying “Oh sure, but that’s because I’m maintaining you,” before she broke into laughter.
She continued: “I thought I was marrying a guy that made some money...I had lucrative contracts and now nothing…”
She is heard teasing him that her status as first lady has prevented her from signing lucrative deals to promote wrinkle-creams, unlike actresses Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone.
Sarkozy doesn’t protest much in his response: “In our relationship she picks up the bill. Here I got rich by marriage,” which prompted more laughter from the first couple and the advisors.
In the other sections of the tapes Sarkozy himself is shown to have been dismissive, even mocking, of the capacities of some of his ministers.
Otherwise there was nothing that could be considered particularly damaging for Sarkozy or his hopes of a political comeback, but they nevertheless caused uproar among French politicians.
Lawmakers across the political spectrum have denounced what they have described as an unprecedented act of treachery and, in some cases, a potential threat to national security.
In a statement to AFP, Sarkozy's lawyers said the former president and his supermodel wife had no option but to take legal action.
"The protection of private and secret conversations constitutes one of the foundations of a democratic society and they cannot accept comments made in private being recorded and published without their consent," the lawyers said.