PARIS — A top aide to Marine Le Pen, the French far-right leader and presidential candidate, was placed under investigation on Wednesday after a day of questioning over accusations of the misuse of European Union money to pay parliamentary assistants, a judicial official said.
The aide, Catherine Griset, who is Ms. Le Pen’s chief of staff, was taken into custody for questioning along with Ms. Le Pen’s bodyguard, Thierry Légier, who was later released without being placed under investigation, the official said.
In reaction to the news, Ms. Le Pen denied any wrongdoing in a case that she said was being used to undermine her campaign.
“There is a very big risk of the justice system being manipulated,” Ms. Le Pen said. “I think that today the justice system is not doing its work with a cool head, impartiality and independence. Everything indicates so.”
The case has landed her in the spotlight with another leading candidate, François Fillon, who is being investigated over public money he paid to his wife and children as parliamentary assistants.
Ms. Le Pen said Wednesday that she was convinced that voters would not fall for what her lawyer, Marcel Ceccaldi, said was manipulation intended to destabilize her campaign.
“The French can tell the difference between genuine scandals and political dirty tricks,” Ms. Le Pen told reporters.
Ms. Griset and Mr. Légier are crucial figures in an investigation that was opened after demands by the European Parliament that Ms. Le Pen repay money she is accused of wrongly paying the two.
Opinion polls suggest that Ms. Le Pen could win the first round of the two-round race on April 23, but she is expected to lose the runoff on May 7 to either Mr. Fillon or another independent candidate, the centrist Emmanuel Macron.
On Monday, the police raided the headquarters of Ms. Le Pen’s party, the National Front, on the western edge of Paris, while she was abroad.
Mr. Fillon’s poll standings fell after the questions about payments to his wife surfaced in late January, but they have since steadied, and he is more or less tied with Mr. Macron for the other slot in the May 7 runoff.
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