French President Emmanuel Macron. Picture: REUTERS
French President Emmanuel Macron. Picture: REUTERS

Paris — French authorities probing a planned attack on President Emmanuel Macron made six arrests on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Details of the planned attack on Macron are not known at this stage, said the person, who asked not to be named as the status of the probe is confidential. A preliminary investigation is being run by Paris prosecutors.

A press aide for Macron declined to comment, saying it was a matter for the judicial system.

The latest arrests were made in three different French regions, the person said. The six people arrested — five men and one woman — are currently in custody and being interrogated, the person said.

According to the interior ministry’s press office, via e-mail, the persons are linked to extremist right-wing movements. “Investigations are ongoing. One must define the reality and the exact nature of the threat. This is what the investigations, which just started, are about.” 

Interior minister Christophe Castaner, speaking at the investiture of a new head of the domestic intelligence service on Monday, said that he was “attentive” to risks from movements of “both the extreme left and right which are very active on our territory”.

Not the first time

It wouldn’t be the first time Macron has been the target of a planned attack. Last year, a right-wing activist was arrested ahead of the annual July 14 parade preventing him from pressing ahead with a plan to kill the French president, AFP reported.

Other French presidents have been targeted in the past. In 2002, a far-right activist tried to kill Jacques Chirac, then French president. The man fired at Chirac during the July 14 parade from a .22-calibre rifle he had concealed in a guitar case, but missed due to a shove from a bystander. Several assassination attempts were also made on Charles de Gaulle when he was president, including the famous attack at the Petit-Clamart outside of Paris in 1962.

In October 2017, French police arrested 10 members of far-right groups who were allegedly planning attacks against Castaner and far-left presidential candidate and Unbowed France [La France Insoumise] party head, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

With assistance from Helene Fouquet