French far-right leader acquitted of breaching hate speech laws

Marine Le Pen posted images of Islamic State atrocities on Twitter in late 2015

French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party president Marine Le Pen attends a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris. Photograph: Christophe Archambault /AFP/ Getty Images

French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party president Marine Le Pen attends a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris. Photograph: Christophe Archambault /AFP/ Getty Images

 

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was acquitted on Tuesday of breaking hate speech laws in late 2015 when she posted images of Islamic State atrocities on Twitter.

Ms Le Pen displayed the three images, including one of the decapitated body of American journalist James Foley, after a prominent television interviewer compared her party to the Islamist militant group.

She had previously said she tweeted the images to highlight the absurdity of the comparison and had denied any wrongdoing, calling the trial politically motivated.

Ms Le Pen’s defense lawyers said after the hearing that freedom of expression had been safeguarded.

Opinion polls show Ms Le Pen will be French president Emmanuel Macron’s main challenger in next year’s election.

She was charged under an article in the penal code that prohibits the dissemination of violent messages that could seriously harm human dignity.

Prosecutors had sought a fine of €5,000, far below the maximum sentence of three years in jail or a €75,000 penalty. –Reuters