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Thursday 19 September 2019

French footballer Karim Benzema arrested in blackmail case

Karim Benzema, right, with Mathieu Valbuena. (AP)
Karim Benzema, right, with Mathieu Valbuena. (AP)

French football star Karim Benzema has been arrested as part of an investigation into a blackmail case over a sex tape involving another player.

A police official said Benzema was taken into custody after being summoned to a Versailles police station.

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

Another former France international, Djibril Cisse - who had stints in the UK with Liverpool, Sunderland and QPR - was briefly detained over the same case 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 football, was released without seeing a judge.

Benzema's lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, was not immediately available for comment.

It is 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 under-age prostitute.

Both players were questioned as part of a probe into a suspected network of prostitutes that operated out of a nightclub on Paris's Champs-Elysees. The case lasted three years before they were acquitted.

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