French prime minister files suit against author of third book about political scandal

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin will file a third defamation lawsuit over the publication of books that implicate him in a political smear campaign, his office said Wednesday.

The latest suit by Villepin targets publisher Albin Michel and journalist Airy Routier, the author of "Le Complot des Paranos" ("The Paranoiacs' Plot"), about an affair that shook his government in recent months.

On Monday, the premier's office said he was seeking suits against the author of two other books on the affair.

The scandal centers on bogus lists of prominent politicians who allegedly laundered kickbacks from a 1991 defense contract through a Luxembourg clearing house called Clearstream.

One of those wrongly accused was Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, a leading hopeful for next year's presidential elections and a rival of Villepin. Some accuse Villepin and President Jacques Chirac of knowing all along that the lists were fake, or even being behind them.

Villepin and Chirac have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, reports AP.

O.Ch.