Marine Le Pen: French far-right leader charged over Isis tweets

National Front president posted photo of James Foley’s decapitated body with the caption: ‘Daesh is THIS!’

Harriet Agerholm
Thursday 01 March 2018 12:57 GMT
She faces three years in prison and a €75,000 fine if convicted
She faces three years in prison and a €75,000 fine if convicted (Getty)

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has been charged over tweets depicting Isis propaganda and violence.

The charges were issued against the National Front leader on Thursday for “distribution of violent images”, the prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said.

If the case reaches trial and she is convicted, the 49-year-old could face three years in prison and a €75,000 (£66,000) fine.

Prosecutors opened an investigation in December 2015 into a series of graphic social media posts by Ms Le Pen, which included a photograph of the decapitated body of US journalist James Foley.

The other pictures showed a tank rolling over a man in an orange jumpsuit and a man being burned alive in a cage.

“Daesh is THIS!” Ms Le Pen wrote alongside the images, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

As deputy in the National Assembly Ms Le Pen is afforded some immunity from prosecution, but in November a cross-party committee in the French parliament stripped her of protection over the three tweets.

The far-right leader’s Twitter posts were greeted with a backlash, and Mr Foley’s parents said they were “deeply disturbed” by the use of the photograph of their son for political gain.

Mr Foley, a freelance journalist, was captured in Syria in 2012 and beheaded in August 2014.

John and Diane Foley said in a statement: “Our family was informed this morning that Marine Le Pen, a French politician, tweeted a shamefully uncensored picture of our son.

“We are deeply disturbed by the unsolicited use of Jim for Le Pen’s political gain and hope that the picture of our son, along with the two other graphic photographs, are taken down immediately,” they said.

Ms Le Pen later deleted the images, saying she was unaware of the victim’s identity.

Mainstream media largely refrained from showing graphic photos from the incident.

Ms Le Pen has previously denounced the investigation into the tweets as “political interference”, but she did not immediately comment publicly on the charges.

It is the latest blow to Ms Le Pen, whose party is in crisis after she lost her bid for the French presidency last year.

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