Embattled French presidential candidate François Fillon said Wednesday he will persevere in the race despite an ongoing inquiry into allegations that he paid his wife and children for work they did not do.
In a televised statement in Paris, Fillon announced that he will be placed under formal investigation on March 15, yet he would not step aside.
"I will not resign. I will not give in. I will not withdraw," he said. "I will go to the end because it is democracy that is being defied. I ask you to follow me."
Fillon said the timing of the meeting with magistrates was intended to damage the Republican Party's chances in the election, and that he was the victim of a "political assassination."
Presidential candidates must present 500 signatures of support from elected officials around France by March 17. French voters go to the polls on April 23.
Fillon, who complained that the presumption of innocence had "entirely disappeared," denied embezzling public funds and said he would answer the charges against him. "I have not lost faith in justice," he said. "I will tell the truth, my truth."
The impromptu nature of his news conference had prompted speculation that Fillon would say he was stepping down from his embattled campaign.
He had earlier postponed a planned appearance at the annual Paris farm fair, a traditional campaign stop for presidential hopefuls.