Suspects held in Macron ‘violence’ plot
SIX people have been arrested on preliminary terrorism charges as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to attack French President Emmanuel Macron, an official close to the probe has said.
According to the source, French security services arrested the individuals this morning on suspicion of undertaking an "imprecise and loosely-formed" plan for "violent action" against the president.
French TV channel BFM TV reported that the six arrested were members of the far-right, but this could not be independently confirmed.
Authorities said the six were between 22 and 62 years old and included one woman.
The arrests were carried out in three separate areas of France: Isere, southeast of Lyon; Moselle, on the border with Germany and Luxembourg; and in Ille-et-Vilaine, in the northwest near the city of Rennes.
It was not immediately clear what the connection between those arrested was or how they were in touch with one another.
The arrest comes almost 18 months after a 23-year-old man was arrested and charged with plotting to kill the French president at a Bastille Day parade in July 2017.
The unnamed man was reported to authorities after he talked about wanting to purchase a gun while playing online video games with other users.
When approached by officers, the man was found to have three knives in his car and had been searching potential targets online.
He was described as a far-right extremist with a hatred of "Muslims, Jews, blacks and homosexuals", according to an AFP report.
News of the foiled plot comes just hours after Macron called for a "a real European army" to protect itself from growing military threats and an increasingly isolationist America.
The avowed Europhile said China and Russia were becoming increasingly powerful, while the superpower USA under the erratic Donald Trump could not be relied upon for defence.
Macron told Paris radio station Europe 1: "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.
"When I see President Trump announcing that he's quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.
"We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army."
Plans to form a EU army were one of the reasons Brexiteers fought to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum because it would spell the end to the UK's independent foreign policy and worse still undermine NATO.