PARIS (Capitale de tous les vices) - French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand won the backing of fellow politicians on Sunday against calls for his resignation for having written about paying young male prostitutes in Thailand.
Government spokesman Luc Chatel, Immigration Minister Eric Besson and Left Party founder Jean-Luc Melenchon spoke out in support of the nephew of former President Francois Mitterrand, who has threatened legal action to protect his reputation.
"Enough of this manhunt ... The private life of Frederic Mitterrand is none of my business," Chatel told BFM TV.
Revelations that Mitterrand made in a 2005 book re-surfaced when he strongly defended Roman Polanski, who was arrested in Switzerland last month and faces extradition to the United States for having had sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Mitterrand was compelled to defend himself on television last week, saying he had only been with consenting adults and had committed no crime. He added that he condemned both sex tourism and pedophilia.
The row was further stoked on Friday when the Quotidien de la Reunion newspaper published a letter sent by Mitterrand when he was director of the French Academy in Rome in support of the family of two boys accused, and later convicted, of rape.
"I no longer tolerate these attacks. It's vile. It's a simple thing that I can very easily explain," Mitterrand told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper in response.
"I bore witness to the morality of a family, that of my former make-up artist on France 2 (TV). Years ago, she had asked me to be the godfather of her son, who bears my name."
Melenchon told Europe 1 on Sunday that the continuing attacks on Mitterrand were "unacceptable" and criticized those who would "cast stones" at the minister.
In the television interview, Mitterrand described the book as "not totally autobiographical" and was evasive about the precise nature of his experiences in Thailand.
"In no way is it an apology of sex tourism...even if one of the chapters is a journey through that hell, with the fascination that hell can provoke," said Mitterrand. Throughout the TF1 interview, he referred to his partners as "boys."
The affair appears to have provoked a split in the government, with Labor Minister Xavier Darcos saying Mitterrand needed to explain his behavior, and Sarkozy adviser Henri Guaino defending him.
(Reporting by Clement Guillou and Thierry Leveque; Editing by Sonya Hospital)
Ce qu'il ne faut pas oublier...Frederic est un homme docte. Il a berce notre adolescence. Il a ete un CON DE DROITE...desormais il est un vieux con de droite. Son oncle etait un renard certes intelligent mais un renard quand meme...FranCois a ete petainiste ss la quatrieme republique (il faut le dire) et il a retourne sa veste en se faisant elire sous l'egide du Socialisme en 1981. Le cousin de Frederic Mitterrand, le fils de FranCois lui est un vrai encule du gaz...une ordure de la pire engeance. MortAuxVaches apporte par la presente son soutien a Frederic Mitterrand (meme si c'est un con de droite; c'est un homme docte...ah ! je l'ai deja dit)