French candidate Fillon: Govt manipulating presidential race

PARIS (AP) — French conservative candidate Francois Fillon is denouncing what he calls the Socialist government's "manipulations" that he says are designed to eliminate him from the presidential race.

The conservative leader and his wife are both facing charges in a probe over well-paid parliamentary jobs that investigators suspect she never performed. Fillon claims the charges are politically motivated.

Fillon told BFM television on Monday "if I had any doubt about my guilt, I wouldn't be a candidate."

Fillon said he made a mistake when he initially said he would withdraw if charged and suggested the government built up the case against him from nothing. He says "I provided a means to eliminate me from the presidential race."

The scandal has deeply damaged the Fillon's chances in the two-round April 23-May 7 vote.