Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is facing preliminary criminal charges as part of a probe into a case of attempted blackmail using a sex tape. French police had taken Benzema into custody for questioning on Wednesday.
Karim Benzema in under formal judicial investigation in connection with an attempt to blackmail Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena using a sex video, a statement from the Versailles prosecutoräs office said.
The statement also indicatedBenzema
was suspected of "complicity in an attempt to blackmail" and conspiring to commit a criminal act, which, if proven, could carry five-year prison sentence. During a hearing at a Versailles court, he was also placed under judicial supervision, prohibiting him from meeting with the victim or other people charged in the case.
Following the hearing, Benzema's lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, told reporters that his client was innocent and had not taken part in any form of blackmail or attempted blackmail.
Under France's justice system, a preliminary charge means that investigators believe they have serious grounds for pursuing a legal case against a suspect and he can be formally charged at a later date.
Incriminating sex tape
The allegations first came to light earlier this year, when Valbuena, a teammate of Benzema on the French national team, decided to take legal action after a man contacted him claiming to be in possession of an incriminating sex tape.
Investigators have yet to find out if Benzema played a role in the extortion attempt.
The two were eventually acquitted.