Karim Benzema has admitted to playing the role of an intermediary in the Mathieu Valbuena sex-tape blackmail case, according to alleged exerts - published by AFP - of the France and Real Madrid striker's police hearing.
Benzema was charged by a court in Versailles last week with complicity in an attempt to blackmail and participating in a criminal conspiracy as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to extort money from Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
According to the AFP report, during a third interview in police custody on November 5 Benzema said that he spoke to his friend Karim Zenati about discussing the situation with Valbuena after Zenati was approached by the alleged blackmailers.
"I had a conversation with Zenati on the way to talk about this with Mathieu Valbuena," Benzema is quoted as saying.
On Wednesday, an alleged copy of a telephone conversation between Benzema and Zenati was released, in which the footballer reportedly told Valbuena "if you want the sex tape to be destroyed, come see my friend in Lyon."
At his police hearing, Benzema described himself how he supported Zenati when his friend was in prison for previous offences and described their relationship as "close".
However, he denied acting with any intention to benefit Zenati in this instance and said that the situation left him feeling "like a jerk".
"I am embarrassed for my friend Karim Zenati," Benzema said. "When he was released from prison, and even when he was in jail, I took care of him. We are close."
He added: "The fact that Karim Zenati benefits [from] something wasn't my intention. I didn't think. I am shocked, frankly, I feel like a jerk when I see all this [...] I didn't act with a hidden agenda."
The case is ongoing and Valbuena is yet to speak to investigators.
Benzema and Valbuena were not included in the latest France squad for friendlies against Germany and England.