Nobel Prize winners support Kundera against informer charge

Paris - Eleven world-renowned writers, including four Nobel Prize winners, have issued a ringing defence of Czech-born author Milan Kundera, accused of turning a Western spy in to the Communist state police in 1950, the daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday.

"This amounts to no more and no less than tarnishing the honour of one of the greatest living novelists on the most dubious grounds, to say the least," read a joint statement issued by the writers, including Nobel laureates JM Coetzee, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nadine Gordimer and Orhan Pamuk.

The signatories pointed out that, in addition to Kundera's denials, the testimony of a "respected scientist from Prague," Zdenek Pesat, has also cleared him.

French prime minister threatens to nationalize loan-wary banks

Paris - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has threatened to nationalize any French bank receiving emergency government aid that does not extend loans to businesses, the online edition of the daily Le Figaro reported on Monday.

Interviewed for a television program to be broadcast late Monday, Fillon said, "If we feel that the banks are not doing the necessary work ... we will take back the credits we have given them."

Without this government aid, Fillon said, the banks will find themselves in difficulty.

"The next question is if we will then take over the bank's capital, possibly to change their leadership, to oversee their strategy," he said.

French weekly protests Moroccan ban of religious issue

Paris - The highly respected French weekly L'Express on Monday protested the Moroccan government's ban of its latest issue on the grounds that it insulted the Islamic religion.

L'Express assistant editor-in-chief Christian Makarian said he "could not understand" last Friday's decision by the Moroccan information minister to prohibit shipment of the magazine into the country.

The issue in question, dated October 30, shows images of Jesus Christ and Mohammad on the cover, accompanied by the headline "The Jesus-Mohammad Shock."

Emotional Tsonga inspired by family in Paris title triumph

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