De Villepin’s home raided in Sarkozy smear probe

“Those were [his] own words,” Gen. Rondot said.

In yet another recovered note, the general said Mr. Gergorin had told him Mr. de Villepin “had appeared both jubilatory but above all concerned not to appear in the scenario.”

Hours after the reports appeared in the French press yesterday, Mr. de Villepin asked judges to grant him an “assisted witness” status — one step short of being under investigation — so that he could see the evidence being compiled against him.

Mr. de Villepin also said he had “not sought to investigate nor compromise any political personality” in this affair of “calumnious denunciation” and asked for “the right to defend himself and bring out the truth.”

The Clearstream affair helped end Mr. de Villepin’s political career. He stepped down as prime minister when Mr. Sarkozy took office last month.

Mr. Chirac also has denied any wrongdoing but last month refused to be questioned about his role in the affair, citing judicial immunity because the events took place during his presidential tenure.

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