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French far-right leader Marine Le Pen charged over IS photos

In this June 18, 2017  photo, French far-right presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen exits a voting booth in Henin Beaumont, Northern France. (Michel Spingler / Associated Press)
In this June 18, 2017 photo, French far-right presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen exits a voting booth in Henin Beaumont, Northern France. (Michel Spingler / Associated Press)

PARIS – French prosecutors filed preliminary charges Thursday against Marine Le Pen for tweeting brutal images of Islamic State violence.

The prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said the charges were issued for “distribution of violent images.” If the case eventually reaches trial and she’s convicted, Le Pen could face up to three years in prison and a 75,000-euro ($90,000) fine.

Le Pen’s December 2015 tweets showed executions by IS extremists, including the killing of American reporter James Foley. She posted them in the wake of the November 2015 IS attacks on Paris, accusing the government of not doing enough to protect France.

Le Pen told BFM television Thursday “it’s clearly aimed at silencing me. Yet I will not be silenced”. Le Pen said she would consider a potential conviction as a “medal of patriotism and defense of the French people.”

The preliminary charges were made possible after the French parliament lifted her immunity from prosecution in the case late last year.

Lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut, representing Le Pen in the case, confirmed the charges but wouldn’t comment.

It’s one of multiple legal cases targeting Le Pen or the National Front.

In one high-profile investigation, she and the party have to respond to charges over the misuse of European funds. She denies wrongdoing.

Le Pen, who was a distant runner-up to Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential run-off, plans to propose a new name for the National Front at a congress later this month, in an apparent effort to distance it from past problems and stigma. The party could also end the honorary presidency of Le Pen’s father and National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, as part of a protracted family feud.

Marine Le Pen’s French-first, Islam-skeptic nationalism resonated widely in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.


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