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Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been charged over his admitted involvement in an alleged extortion case over a sex tape featuring fellow French international Mathieu Valbuena and appeared before a judge Thursday, legal sources said.

Benzema was charged with “complicity in an attempt to blackmail” and conspiring to commit a criminal act, which is punishable by at least five years in prison, the prosecutor's office in Versailles outside Paris said.

The 27-year-old star told investigators he approached Valbuena about the tape on behalf of “a childhood friend.” Benzema spent the night in custody after being arrested on Wednesday. A source close to the investigation said the player had admitted while he was in custody that he had spoken to Lyon midfielder Valbuena about the sex tape.

“Karim Benzema has admitted speaking to Valbuena at the request of a childhood friend, who was approached by three blackmailers who were in possession of the sex tape,” the source close to the investigation said.

The three alleged blackmailers, who are all in custody, had first contacted a friend of Benzema's brother seeking to involve the player in their extortion attempt, a source said.

Benzema's lawyer said Monday he had played “no part” in the plot and was keen to clear his name.

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