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Ryanair defends sassy schoolgirl, Sarkozy ads

Budget airline Ryanair is challenging an order to stop running a controversial advertisement featuring a provocatively dressed schoolgirl.

The Irish airline said Wednesday the order issued by the British Advertising Standards Authority amounted to censorship. The watchdog warned that the advertisement, which was published in three newspapers in the summer of 2007, was likely to cause "serious or widespread offence."

"It is remarkable that a picture of a fully clothed model is now claimed to cause 'serious or widespread offense,'" said Ryanair spokesman Peter Sherrard. "This isn't advertising regulation, it is simply censorship."

The airline is also facing scrutiny for a cheeky advertisement featuring French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his girlfriend Carla Bruni. The advertisement features a photo of the couple with a comic book bubble over Bruni reading, "With Ryanair, all my family can come to the wedding."

Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog says the airline used the photograph of the couple without their permission. A Paris court on Thursday will hear the complaint ,seeking the symbolic amount of one euro for Sarkozy and 500,000 euros in damages for Bruni.

With files from the Associated Press