Sarkozy, Cabinet Ministers Receive Death Threats

March 5, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

French policemen arrest a man suspected to be in connection with death threats received by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and several ministers, on March 4, 2009, in Montpellier, southern France.   (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)
French policemen arrest a man suspected to be in connection with death threats received by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and several ministers, on March 4, 2009, in Montpellier, southern France. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS—French President Nicolas Sarkozy received a death threat and a live 38 caliber bullet in a letter sent to his residence on Feb. 26, according to French media. Asked about it on March 3, the President’s spokesperson first denied before confirming it. This is the second time in two months that the increasingly unpopular Sarkozy has received a letter of this kind.

By the end of February, seven right-wing political allies of President Sarkozy, including cabinet minister Rachida Dati (Minister of Justice), Michele Alliot-Marie (French Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories), Christine Albanel (Minister of Culture) and former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, had also received the same letter and bullet.

Other addressees include Jean-Paul Alduy, Senator of Pyrenees-Orientales in the South of France, as well as members of Parliament Frederic Lefebvre (Great Paris area) and Christian Vanneste. Vanneste commented that “whoever they are, as you can see, they focus on people who like order.”

The letter, described by investigators as “verbal delirium,” was obtained by French newspaper Le Monde and Le Figaro. It says: “Ministers, members of the Parliament, Senators, freedom-killing lawmakers, fascists… you are all but dead men walking. You think you master our lives, but it is us who master yours as well as that of your family and friends.”

Some of the letters contained 9mm bullets and some had special 38mm bullets. All letters were posted from the Southern department of Herault, indicating possible local origin.

This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that two local politicians were targeted: Raymond Couderc, mayor of Beziers and Jacques Blanc, mayor of La Canourge.

In the letter to Alain Juppé, the term “Earth-solidarity” is used as potentially referring to an organization, yet the letters appear too incongruous for the Paris police prosecutor to draw any conclusion as to the motivations of the sender.

Obscure military terminology is reported in the letters, such as “10000 gunmen”, “office 34,” “target,” “locked,” “radio-off,” and more.

Alain Juppe, quoted by Les Echos, stated: “That kind of thing is part of the job, this is not the first time and will not be the last I think, I'm therefore completely at ease.”

France has been under increased pressure from radical leftist groups, who, for example, sabotaged several high-speed rail networks during 2008. Just before Christmas, sticks of dynamite were left in the Printemps-Haussmann Superstore in Paris, accompanied by an obscure letter supposed to be a call to Jihad, but strongly tainted with ultra-left terminology.

On the March 5 news emerged that a suspect from the city of Montpellier in the south of France was arrested; police said he has a miliatary background.

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