Sarkozy found Mitterrand sex tourism book 'courageous'
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has not yet commented on a row over a book his culture minister wrote that describes paying for sex with boys, said in July that he found the book "courageous."
"I found his book The Bad Life to be courageous and talented," Sarkozy told the Nouvel Observateur magazine in an interview on ethnic and political diversity in government given before scandal erupted around the memoir.
One chapter of Frederic Mitterrand's 2005 book recounts how he paid for sex with "young boys" in Thailand and Indonesia. It caused no controversy after it was released, when the author was not yet a member of government.
But this week, after Mitterrand courted controversy by defending fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski, opponents headed back to the book and accused him of supporting the sexual exploitation of young Asians.
The hero of the book struggles with his conscience, saying that he had "read what had been written about the trade in boys" and knew all about the misery of the sex trade, but decides he cannot resist the temptation.
When the book, described by its publisher as a "novel inspired by autobiography," was released, Mitterrand confirmed he had paid for sex in Asian brothels, but rejected rumours of paedophilia.
Sarkozy appointed the nephew of the late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand to his rightwing government in late June.