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Actress Julie Gayet suing over Hollande affair allegations, Closer magazine says

By Lilia Blaise, CNN
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
French President Francois Hollande and French actress Julie Gayet.
French President Francois Hollande and French actress Julie Gayet.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Julie Gayet suit seeks 50,000 euros for alleged invasion of privacy, magazine says
  • Affair allegations have sparked a media firestorm of a kind not usually seen in France
  • Article came at an already tough time for Hollande, whose popularity has slumped

Paris (CNN) -- French actress Julie Gayet is suing the magazine Closer over an article suggesting she is having an affair with French President Francois Hollande, the magazine said Thursday.

The lawsuit demands 50,000 euros for alleged invasion of privacy plus 4,000 euros in legal fees, according to the magazine.

The allegations, which emerged last week, sparked a media firestorm of a kind not usually seen in France, where privacy is closely guarded.

When asked questions about his personal life at a news conference Tuesday, Hollande said that he and his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, were going through "painful moments" but added that his personal affairs should be dealt with in private.

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Hollande has not confirmed or denied the alleged affair but has threatened legal action. A statement from his entourage Friday to news agency Agence France-Presse said Hollande "deeply condemns the attacks on the right to privacy which he has a right to like every other citizen."

Hollande and Trierweiler are expected next month on a state visit to the United States at the invitation of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Their itinerary includes a February 11 state dinner at the White House.

Hollande said Tuesday he would clarify the situation before the February trip.

Trierweiler was hospitalized after Closer published its report Friday.

The allegations came at an already difficult time for Hollande, who has seen his popularity slump since his 2012 election. His news conference at the Elysee Palace was intended to highlight his plans for France's economy, which faltered last year amid stubbornly high unemployment rates.

A survey last month by French polling organization Ifop gave Hollande an approval rating of 22%, a rise of 2 percentage points from the previous month, when he hit a record low.

READ: Opinion: Personal or political, it's time Hollande got his affairs in order

READ: French president ducks questions over affair allegations

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report.

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