A French magazine publisher, editor, and photographer have been placed under formal investigation and could face criminal charges for publishing photos of Kate Middleton as she sunbathed topless last year in the south of France.
The pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William's wife, were splashed across the covers of all the European tabloids
when they were taken in September 2012 until authorities banned further republication or resale. A criminal probe was launched in October to investigate how the photos were obtained and if a breach of privacy was committed.
Though authorities have not confirmed the identity of the three people under investigation, French media have reported that one of them is the publisher of Mondadori France, which publishes Closer magazine — where the photos were first printed.
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La Provence newspaper has confirmed that its general director, Marc Auburtin, and a photographer, Valerie Suau, are the other two under investigation for the topless photos of Kate Middleton, though the paper insists the photos were not "indecent."
"La Provence maintains that the photos it published [by Valerie Suau] show Kate Middleton and her husband in bathing suits and are not topless on the terrace of the Château d'Autet," the paper said in a statement on Wednesday. "These photos are not indecent at all and do not invade the privacy of the prince and his wife."
Placing a person under investigation in France means that a judge may formally interrogate a suspect in the presence of a lawyer. French judges will then decide whether there is enough evidence to call for a trial.
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"The only comment we'd make is that the ongoing legal process is a matter for the French authorities," a spokesperson for Prince William and Duchess Kate said Wednesday.
The royal couple is expecting their first child this summer.
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