France striker Karim Benzema arrested in blackmail case

PARIS: France striker Karim Benzema was arrested Wednesday as part of an investigation into a blackmail case over a sex tape involving another player.


A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing, told The Associated Press that Benzema was put into custody after being summoned to a Versailles police station.

Police are trying to find out what role the Real Madrid forward played in the extortion attempt targeting France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, and if he actually tried to blackmail the Lyon player.

Three other people have been handed preliminary charges since October in that case.

Former France international Djibril Cisse was briefly detained last month after being suspected of conspiracy to blackmail, a charge with a maximum prison sentence of five years. Cisse, who has since retired from soccer, was released without seeing a judge.

Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, said his client told the judge in charge of the case that he was available for questioning as soon as his name was mentioned in the media.

“He wants to put an end as soon as possible to this controversy that rose from a case he did not take part in,” Cormier said in a message to the AP.

It’s not the first time Benzema has been confronted with problems off the field. Five years ago, preliminary charges were filed against Franck Ribery and Benzema for soliciting an underage prostitute. Both players were questioned as part of a probe into a suspected network of prostitutes that operated out of a nightclub on Paris’ glitzy Champs-Elysees. The case lasted three years before they were acquitted.