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CRIME

Racism probe after black French MP depicted as slave in magazine

French prosecutors on Monday opened a probe into allegations of racism after a right-wing magazine published images depicting a black woman MP as a slave, prompting a nationwide outcry.

Racism probe after black French MP depicted as slave in magazine
La France Insoumise MP Daniele Obono. Photo: AFP

The Valeurs Actuelles weekly unleased a storm of controversy with the publication of the images of left-wing MP Daniele Obono with a chain fixed to an iron collar around her neck.

A preliminary investigation has now been opened into “attacks of a racist nature”, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement.

The French presidency said at the weekend President Emmanuel Macron had called Obono, who is from the far-left party France Unbowed, and “expressed his clear condemnation of any form of racism”.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said it was a “revolting publication that calls for clear condemnation” and told Obono that she had the government's backing.

Obono tweeted: “The extreme right – odious, stupid and cruel. In short, being itself.”

 

Valeurs Actuelles, which is seen by commentators as sympathetic to the far-right, however denied the image was racist.

It said the seven page story concerning Obono – which it called an “imaginary fiction” – was “a work of fiction… but never nasty.”

France has witnessed several protests in June and July against racial injustice as well as colonial and police brutality, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd's death under the knee of a police officer in the United States.

READ ALSO Who is Adama Traoré and why are there protests in his name across France?

Centrist Macron raised eyebrows when he gave an interview to Valeurs Actuelles last year and praised it as a “good magazine”.

While he has pledged to root out racism, he also said France will not take down statues of figures linked to the colonial era or the slave trade, as has happened in other countries recently.

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CRIME

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.

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