PARIS (AP) — France's ambassador to Japan has said publicly that he would refuse to serve as a diplomat if Marine Le Pen were elected president.
Ambassador Thierry Dana sharply criticized Le Pen and her nationalist policies in a commentary in Le Monde newspaper. The National Front shot back Thursday, saying that Dana should anticipate Le Pen's coming victory in the April 23 and May 7 presidential votes, and "immediately leave public service."
Le Pen, who wants to pull France out of the European Union, and put a ceiling of 10,000 on immigration, shares the lead in recent polls with independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.
Dana cited a Feb. 26 speech by Le Pen in Nantes in which she suggested that some civil servants were allegedly working against her, and said they could be held liable once the Socialist government is "swept away."
Le Pen specifically mentioned judges, in an apparent reference to multiple corruption probes by investigative judges into her National Front party, her entourage and, in one case, herself.
She has been called in for questioning on Friday, but has said she will not be available during the presidential campaign.
The ambassador to Japan said in his commentary that "I cannot loyally defend your positions" and "would refuse to serve" if she wins.
Conservative candidate Francois Fillon also faces corruption charges for using public funds to pay his wife and two children as parliamentary aides — but not giving them any work. But while the weight of the allegations left Fillon fighting for weeks to maintain his candidacy and pushed him into third place, Le Pen has not suffered.
The National Front's Bruno Gollnisch, a party hardliner and Japan specialist, said in a statement that Le Pen would not ask civil servants "to adopt her ideas or her convictions."
The candidate of the governing Socialists trails in fourth place in recent polls.
Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has not explicitly backed candidate Benoit Hamon, but appeared with him on Thursday and said the contender has to bring together his "political family" to effectively face off against the National Front.