, PARIS, Apr 8 – French government politicians rushed to praise Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on Thursday after she dismissed rumours about the state of her marriage to France\’s President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The supermodel turned singer gave a radio interview Wednesday in a bid to end the frenzy surrounding her married life and talk in Sarkozy\’s own entourage of a plot against the couple.
"This matter is now closed," said government spokesman Luc Chatel, while the minister for families, Nadine Morano, dubbed Bruni a "stateswoman".
"I thought she was extremely impressive and you can tell she has a sense of duty. I think that\’s what motivated her to speak out yesterday, because the position of president deserves respect," Morano told LCI television.
The French first lady spoke out after European newspapers reported rumours about the couple\’s private life and Sarkozy aides alleged that unnamed forces were behind a smear campaign.
"These are insignificant rumours that count for nothing. We have never tried to fight them. These are rumours that are unpleasant, but which have no importance," she told the Europe 1 radio station.
"I don\’t think that we have been victims of any kind of plot. I think that rumours have always existed, that unfortunately they\’re part of being human," she explained, in her first public response to the scandal.
"We have decided, my husband and I, to not accord any importance to this. There is no plot. There will be no revenge. It\’s of no concern to us, and we turned the page on this a long time ago."
Bruni suggested that Sarkozy\’s communications advisor Pierre Charon "spoke from the heart" when he suggested that foreign business interests were behind the rumours.
Nevertheless, Bernard Squarcini, the head of France\’s domestic intelligence agency the DCRI confirmed that his agents had been trying to track down the source of the rumours.
"My department was tasked by its commanding authority, national police chief Frederic Pechenard, in early March," he told AFP.
Chatel, the government spokesman, praised Bruni for highlighting that "with today\’s new technological means, rumours can reach new heights."
"We must distance ourselves from some information," he said.
Sarkozy on Thursday made his annual pilgrimage to a cemetery where World War II Resistance fighters were laid to rest in the Alps and spent time chatting with members of the crowd. His wife stayed behind in Paris.
Last month, newspapers in Belgium, Britain, Germany and Switzerland reported the rumours about the president\’s marriage.
Murmurs had circulated in Parisian circles for weeks, but exploded into mainstream opinion via Twitter postings by journalists and a blog on the website of the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.
The Journal du Dimanche has since lodged a formal complaint with police, alleging that an employee of Newsweb, a firm subcontracted to provide online content, had injected "fraudulent data" on to its site.
According to the news weekly Le Nouvel Observateur and the daily Le Monde, the Journal du Dimanche was pushed to make the complaint by Sarkozy\’s inner circle, although his aides have denied this.
Since the posting — which went up in the night of March 9 and was rapidly taken down once editors became aware of it — Newsweb\’s chief operating officer and the author of the offending entry have both been forced to resign.
Both Sarkozy\’s lawyer Thierry Herzog and Charon have suggested the rumours were planted.
"Now we\’ll see if there was a kind of organised plot, with financial transactions, why not?" Charon told the news website Rue89 at the weekend.
"The fact that these rumours were picked up in the press in Britain, Germany and Switzerland makes one suspect a plot, at a time when France is preparing to assume the Group of 20 presidency in 2011," he added.
France is expected to use its turn leading the club of the world\’s richest nations to push for greater financial regulation.