Marine Le Pen charged in France for tweeting gruesome pictures of Isil violence

Marine Le Pen charged in France for tweeting gruesome pictures of Isil violenceMarine Le Pen, the French far-Right leader, was charged on Thursday for posting graphic images of atrocities by Isil jihadists on Twitter — including a photograph of the decapitated body of an American reporter. The move by a judge in Nanterre, a Paris suburb, came after the National Assembly voted in November to strip the National Front president of her parliamentary immunity from prosecution for tweeting three photographs showing killings by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). The images, tweeted in December 2015 with the caption "This is Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Isil],” included a picture of the beheaded journalist, James Foley, a man on fire in a cage and a tank driving over another victim. At the time, Foley's parents accused Ms Le Pen of using their son’s "shamefully uncensored" image for political gain. Ms Le Pen later deleted the photograph from her account and claimed she did not know it showed Foley when she tweeted it. She said she removed it immediately after his family complained. Foley, a freelance reporter, was abducted in Syria in 2012 and beheaded in August 2014. Journalist James Foley in Aleppo, Syria, in July, 2012 Credit: AP Ms Le Pen, 49, has been placed under formal investigation — a stage in the French legal process equivalent to being charged in Britain — for “distributing violent images”, which is an offence in France. If the case goes to trial and she is convicted, Ms Le Pen faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (£66,515).   Ms Le Pen said: “I am being charged for having denounced the horror of Daesh. In other countries that would have merited a medal. Political persecution is no longer limited by decency.” In January, Gilbert Collard, another French MP allied with the FN, was charged with the same offence. Ms Le Pen was an MEP but not a French MP when she posted the images in December 2015. The European Parliament lifted her immunity in March last year at the request of French legal authorities. She was elected to the French parliament last June. The judge’s decision came just over a week before the FN’s annual conference at which Ms Le Pen is expected to present a new name for the party in an effort to distance it from racist and xenophobic associations. French far-right Front National (FN) party president Marine Le Pen, pets a cow at the 2018 Paris International Agriculture Fair, February 28 Credit: AFP The change is part of her plan to rebuild the FN after being trounced by Emmanuel Macron in last year’s elections. The investigation is unlikely to affect her popularity with her core supporters. However, she appears increasingly isolated within the party. Many FN voters would prefer her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, 28, as leader. Others remain loyal to her estranged father, the party’s 89-year-old founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has spoken out against her leadership and the proposed name change. The FN also faces other investigations, including one into alleged misuse of EU funds, which have not dented its appeal among the party faithful.

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