Arrest of Yellow Vest leader Drouet slammed as ‘abuse of power’ & ‘dictatorship’

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Yellow Vest demonstrations

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Yellow Vest demonstrations

Mr Drouet, who has been one of the leading figures of the Yellow Vests and has appeared frequently on French media, was taken into custody on Wednesday while heading for the Champs-Élysées after calling for a spontaneous demonstration online, according to a Paris prosecutor, Le Figaro reports.

Drouet was released on Thursday and defended his intentions.

But "yellow vests" have promised to return in force to the streets this Saturday. "Abuse of power. A politicized police targeting and harassing the leaders of the yellow vest movement".

"Again Eric Drouet arrested, why?"

Drouet was arrested for the "organization of a non-declared manifestation" late on Wednesday, the FranceInfo broadcaster, reported, citing a police source.

Hours beforehand, he was arrested on his way to meet friends outside a McDonalds restaurant near the Arc de Triomphe war monument.

So-called because of the high-visibility jackets they wear, the Yellow Vest protesters sprung into action in November.

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The "yellow vest" protests have caused the biggest political crisis of Macron´s 20-month presidency.

He faces trial on June 5 for "carrying a prohibited category D weapon", a judicial source told AFP.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the left-wing France Insoumise (France Unbowed), a fierce critic of President Emmanuel Macron, reacted in a tweet to Drouet's arrest.

But according to numerous polls conducted after Macron canceled his planned fuel-tax hike on December 10, about half of the public believes his concessions were not meaningful enough and that the movement should continue.

"It wasn't a call for a demonstration", he insists, denying accusations that he had called for a rally on the Champs-Elysees Wednesday evening while failing to inform authorities in advance of the protest.

The man, already known for involvement in other altercations during recent Yellow Vest protests, risks being sent to a criminal court where he could end up with a five year prison sentence and a fine of up to 75,000 euros.

Notably, on December 6, Drouet suggested that the participants of the yellow west protests should enter the Elysee Palace, which is the French presidential residence.

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