Footballer Mathieu Valbuena has spoken publicly for the first time about France teammate Karim Benzema and an alleged se x tape blackmail plot.
Mr Valbuena told Le Monde that Mr Benzema had “indirectly” suggested he would need to pay blackmailers to get the tape back.
Mr Benzema is under formal investigation for complicity in attempted blackmail.
A lawyer for Mr Benzema insists his client is not guilty.
The sex tape is said to be of Mr Valbuena and his girlfriend.
Sources have told French media that a relative of Mr Benzema was contacted by blackmailers in an attempt to involve him in the scheme against his teammate. There has been no confirmation from police.
A source close to the inquiry, quoted by AFP news agency, said Mr Benzema, 27, had told investigators he had approached Mr Valbuena, 31, about the tape on behalf of “a childhood friend”.
In the interview in Le Monde, Mr Valbuena said of Mr Benzema: “He was not aggressive in his manner of talking, he did not talk about money concretely, directly. But when someone insists that I meet someone… hmmmm.
“I have never met anyone who is going to destroy a video for free just because they love me! You shouldn’t treat people like idiots.”
He added: “I am very, very disappointed and I can only note that my relations with Karim were not as sincere as he makes out.”
After Mr Valbuena lodged his complaint, he said Mr Benzema had telephoned him via a member of staff of Mr Valbuena’s club, Olympique Lyonnais.
- Born in Lyon as one of 10 children in a family of Algerian origin
- Joined Lyon youth football academy aged nine
- Made professional debut in 2005, aged 17
- Recruited by Real Madrid FC from Olympique Lyonnais in 2009
- Played first senior match for French national team in March 2007
- Linked with a move to Arsenal in August
- Cleared of charges he slept with an under-age prostitute in 2014
Mr Valbuena said Mr Benzema had said “Mat, my name is out, what the hell is this? I cannot be involved in stuff like this.”
Mr Valbuena said he tried to reassure his teammate, telling him he had done nothing and there was nothing to worry about. But Mr Valbuena said that deep down he still thought it strange Mr Benzema would try to get him to meet the people involved.
“After that he told me, ‘We’ll have to deny it, it’s hot, it’s going to go crazy… I have a daughter and everything’,” Mr Valbuena added.
Mr Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, has insisted his client is innocent, saying: “He took no part, I state this again – no part – in the blackmail or blackmail attempts.”
The striker has been placed under formal investigation for complicity in attempted blackmail and participation in a criminal conspiracy.
His case will be examined by a judge to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for charges.
If formal charges do follow and he is convicted, Mr Benzema could face a minimum jail sentence of five years.
Three other men have been placed under formal investigation.
The scandal has damaged France’s build up to the European Championships, which the country hosts next year.
France coach Didier Deschamps left both players out of his squad for recent friendly matches.