Mr. Sarkozy was held at Nanterre, just outside of Paris, where he was questioned on allegations that he violated campaign finance laws and abused his power to manipulate the legal system. Authorities officially charged him, his lawyer and a senior magistrate early Wednesday morning, according to several news outlets.
Prosecutors accused Mr. Sarkozy of appointing a magistrate in Monaco, Gilbert Azibert, to a senior judicial position in exchange for under-the-table information regarding campaign finance probes against him.
Mr. Sarkozy is also accused of participating in illegal campaign activity, including accepting illegal donations from former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The charges could prove detrimental to Mr. Sarkozy’s hopes of returning to the political arena. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison, according to Agence France Presse.
“This situation is serious and the charges are serious … and furthermore they concern senior magistrates, a lawyer and a former president,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday.
“The most important thing is for the judicial system to be able to work in a fully independent manner and peacefully and that the presumption of innocence is respected,” Mr. Valls said on BFM television.