French President Slams ‘Manhunt’ Of Gérard Depardieu

French President Emmanuel Macron in late December weighed in on what he described as the “manhunt” against actor Gérard Depardieu, who has been accused in recent years of harassing and assaulting women, the New York Times reported.

In a December 19 television interview, Macron defended the prominent French actor saying he “makes France proud” and made the case for due process.

The 74-year-old French leading man is facing renewed scrutiny following the broadcast of a documentary in France that featured Depardieu making crude and sexist comments while visiting North Korea in 2018. The documentary prompted further accusations of assault against the actor, as well as the removal of Depardieu’s likeness from the Paris wax museum Musée Grévin.

Depardieu has denied any wrongdoing.

French Cultural Minister Rima Abdul Malak expressed disgust for the actor’s comments featured in the documentary and said disciplinary proceedings were underway to determine if Depardieu should be stripped of France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor, an award created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte for “outstanding merit” in particular fields. Depardieu was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1996.

However, President Macron described himself as an “admirer” of the actor and told France 5 television that he refused to join the “manhunt” against Depardieu.

As the President of France, Macron serves as the grand master of the order of the Legion of Honor.

Macron told France 5 that Culture Minister Malak overstepped “a bit too much” by calling for Depardieu to be stripped of the honor and suggested that he would not strip the Legion of Honor “from artists or officials when they say things that shock me.”

Macron said while Depardieu has been accused and the victims should be able “to defend their rights,” there is still a presumption of innocence.