Jean-Claude Arnault, photographer in Nobel prize scandal, charged with rape

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Jean-Claude Arnault pictured in 2011 before the Kings Nobel dinner at the Royal Palace in Stockholm Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Jean-Claude Arnault pictured in 2011

A French photographer at the heart of a scandal that saw this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature postponed has been charged with rape.

Jean-Claude Arnault, who was charged with two counts of rape dating back to 2011, denies the allegations.

The Swedish Academy, which handles the prize, last month postponed it amid criticism of its handling of the case.

Swedish prosecutor Christina Voigt said the evidence against Mr Arnault “was robust and sufficient for prosecution”.

The photographer, who is well-known in Sweden, is married to a former member of the centuries-old Swedish Academy.

“He maintains that he is completely innocent of the allegations,” said Mr Arnault’s lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig.

“I do not share the prosecutor’s view that the evidence is robust,” he added. “Accounts differ, there is no technical evidence, there are no direct witness accounts and the events are a long time in the past.”

The two counts of rape concern the same woman, who has not been identified.

How did the Nobel row unfold?

It evolved out of Sweden’s #MeToo movement. In late 2017, some 18 women came forward in a Swedish newspaper to accuse Mr Arnault of sexual harassment and assault, prompting an investigation by state prosecutors.

He denied all the alleged incidents, many of which were said to have happened at properties owned by the Academy or at his literary club.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Swedish Academy is one of the most prestigious cultural bodies in the world

Mr Arnault has also been accused of groping the heir to the Swedish throne, Crown Princess Victoria, during a formal dinner in 2006 – which he denies.

In April, the Swedish organisation handed over an internal report it had conducted through lawyers to judicial authorities.

The same month, it voted against removing Mr Arnault’s wife, the poet and writer Katarina Frostenson, from its 18-person committee.

This, along with accusations of conflict of interest and the leaking of Nobel winners’ names, is said to have divided the Academy and sparked a wave of resignations – including by Ms Frostenson and the Academy’s head, Prof Sara Danius.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prof Sara Danius, the Swedish Academy’s ex-permanent secretary, resigned – and won widespread public support

Technically, members of the Swedish Academy cannot resign from their positions, which are assumed for life. But they can stop taking part in its activities.

The situation became so bad that the body decided to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, due to a lack of public confidence.

“The Academy needs time to regain its full complement, engage a larger number of active members and regain confidence in its work,” it said in a statement.

The academy says it will announce the 2018 winner along with the 2019 winner next year.

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