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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Row hits another French minister
French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie
Ms Alliot-Marie wants a judicial investigation into the claims
The French defence minister says she has been targeted in a political smear campaign, echoing cabinet colleagues.

Speaking on French television, Ms Michele Alliot-Marie said she was "shocked and angry" to be linked to the so-called Clearstream affair.

The affair was sparked by a government probe into possible corruption linked to the sale of frigates to Taiwan.

The row has pitted Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin against Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr de Villepin - who has also alleged political "dirty tricks" - discussed the Clearstream affair with Ms Alliot-Marie on Friday.

One of his aides told the French news agency AFP that they both "demanded truth and justice" to deal with the "slanderous attacks".

In the French television interview, Ms Alliot-Marie said "I am myself being targeted, via my husband, by destabilisation operations which are targeting a number of politicians".

Her husband, Patrick Ollier, is a member of parliament for the ruling UMP party.

On Thursday Mr de Villepin strongly denied claims that he had targeted Mr Sarkozy in the corruption investigation.

Attention has focused on a key January 2004 meeting when Mr de Villepin, foreign minister at the time, had called for an inquiry into possible corruption linked to the Taiwan deal.

He and Mr Sarkozy are rivals to represent the centre-right in next year's presidential election.

There had been allegations that senior French officials had laundered kickbacks from the sale of frigates to Taiwan through a Luxembourg-based finance house, Clearstream.

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