Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

French president Emmanuel Macron and Alexandre Benalla (right), who is in charge of security for Macron’s engagements, and who was filmed assaulting a protester while dressed in riot gear. (Reuters)
Updated 19 July 2018
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Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

PARIS: A video showing one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s security chiefs beating a student demonstrator, until now cloaked in secrecy, is drawing a fierce public backlash over what is seen as mild punishment and a possible cover-up.
The video of the May 1 event in Paris, revealed by Le Monde on Wednesday evening, shows Alexandre Benalla in a helmet with police markings, and surrounded by riot police, brutally dragging off a woman from a demonstration and then repeatedly beating a young man on the ground. The man is heard begging him to stop. Another man in civilian clothing pulled the young man to the ground.
Police, who had hauled the man from the crowd before Benalla took over, didn’t intervene. Benalla then left the scene. The second man was apparently a gendarme who Le Monde said had worked with Benalla in the past.
The uproar over Benalla’s punishment — a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities — forced top French officials to address the issue Thursday. But Macron has remained silent. Benalla, who hasn’t commented on the matter, handled Macron’s security during the presidential campaign.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, responding to questions in the Senate, called the event “shocking,” but stumbled to respond to questions, notably whether all French are equal before the law.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the two men “obviously had no legitimate (reason) to intervene.” He said he has demanded that a police unit which investigates suspected criminal behavior by officers explain the rules for observers and verify whether they were respected.
Condemning the “unacceptable behavior,” Macron spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said that Benalla was also removed from his responsibilities of organizing security for presidential trips — though he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.
In addition, authorities launched a preliminary investigation that could lead to charges against Benalla, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing case.
Despite this, Benalla has been seen this month on the ground with police at several high-profile events, including the return home Monday of France’s champion World Cup team, an event attended by hundreds of thousands.
Macron, in the Dordogne region to officially launch a new postage stamp, didn’t respond to questions about the scandal. The upstart centrist elected last year had promised an exemplary presidency during his term to break with unending cases of corruption in French politics.
Roger-Petit said the punishment dealt out to Benalla was the “most serious” ever given to a top aide at the presidential Elysee Palace and served as a “last warning before dismissal.”
Opposition politicians expressed shock, with some denouncing a climate of impunity at the top of the French political hierarchy and asking Macron to personally address the issue.
The head of France’s main conservative party The Republicans, Laurent Wauquiez, asked on Europe 1 radio if the government was trying to “hush the affair.”
Roger-Petit stressed that Benalla had requested authorization to use his day off “to observe” security forces’ operations on May Day when marches are traditionally held. It was granted.
It was unclear why the young man under attack, who wasn’t detained, was singled out by police before Benalla intervened.
“An observer doesn’t act like that,” said the spokesman for the UNSA-Police union. They are typically equipped and briefed in advance, and the framework is “completely clear,” Philippe Capon told BFM-TV.
He couldn’t say why police didn’t stop Benalla.
The context was “special,” he said. “He was an observer from the Elysee. When police officials hear the word ‘Elysee’ there is a particular apprehension.”


51 states pledge support for global cybersecurity rules

Updated 13 min 22 sec ago
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51 states pledge support for global cybersecurity rules

  • The states have signed up to a so-called “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace”
  • China, Russia and the United States did not sign the pledge, reflecting their resistance to setting standards for cyberweapons

PARIS: Fifty-one states, including all EU members, have pledged their support for a new international agreement to set standards on cyberweapons and the use of the Internet, the French government said Monday.
The states have signed up to a so-called “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace,” an attempt to kickstart stalled global negotiations.
China, Russia and the United States did not sign the pledge, reflecting their resistance to setting standards for cyberweapons which are at the cutting edge of modern warfare.
“We need norms to avoid a war in cyberspace which would be catastrophic,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday.
Campaigners have called for a “Digital Geneva Convention,” a reference to the Geneva conventions that set standards for the conduct of wars.
They want states to commit to not attacking infrastructure which is depended upon by civilians during wartime, for example.
A new international norm would also help define a state-backed cyberattack and when a state could be justified in retaliating.
Dozens of countries are thought to have developed offensive cyberweapons.
“We need to move these norms forward,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said on Monday at the Paris Peace Forum, being held to mark the centenary of the end of World War I.
In a presentation at the forum, Smith portrayed cyberweapons as having the potential to spark another mass conflict.
He said 2017 was a “wake-up call for the world” because of the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks.
WannaCry crippled many hospitals in Britain and affected 150 countries in 24 hours. It is thought to have been deployed from North Korea.
Many experts attribute NotPetya, which hit banking, power and business computing systems across Ukraine, to Russia.
But security officials note that those two attacks appear to be based on code stolen from the US National Security Agency, which leads the country’s cyber-defenses.
“In a world where everything is being connected, anything can be affected, which is why we need to come together,” Smith added.
The text of the Paris call will be presented by French President Emmanuel Macron as he opens UNESCO’s Internet Governance Forum in Paris on Monday.
It has also been signed by 93 civil society groups and 218 companies, Le Drian said.
“To respect people’s rights and protect them online as they do in the physical world, states must work together, but also collaborate with private-sector partners, the world of research and civil society,” according to the text.
Russia has been accused by Western countries of cyber-meddling over the last few years, while huge data breaches online have fueled calls for new rules governing online behavior.