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Mar 27, 1:36 PM EDT

French court OKs media access to Sarkozy's campaign files


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PARIS (AP) -- France's highest administrative court is allowing journalists to see files regarding former President Nicolas Sarkozy's winning presidential campaign in 2007, which is suspected of having received illegal funding from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

France's Council of State on Friday asked the commission in charge of controlling the campaign funds to release details of its written exchanges with Sarkozy and his treasurer, according to a law guaranteeing free access to administrative documents.

The investigative news website Mediapart had initially sought the files. The commission refused, and Mediapart appealed the decision.

Sarkozy, who is eyeing the 2017 presidential race for a comeback, last year was handed preliminary charges in an investigation into allegations that he took 50 million euros ($54.5 million) in illegal campaign funds from the late Libyan leader. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Sarkozy had an up-and-down relationship with Gadhafi. Early in his five-year tenure, Sarkozy invited the Libyan leader to France for a state visit and welcomed him with the greatest honors. But he put France in a key position in the NATO-led airstrikes against Gadhafi's troops that helped rebel fighters topple his regime in 2011.

Sarkozy's campaign has faced other scrutiny. His then-campaign treasurer Eric Woerth is among the 10 people who went on trial earlier this year over suspicion that he had illegally taken donations from France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, in the 2007 election cycle. The verdict is expected on May 28.

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