French judge steps up Le Pen inquiry over Islamic State tweets

Far-right leader placed under formal investigation on suspicion of spreading violent images

Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right  Front National party leader. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right Front National party leader. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

 

France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen was on Thursday placed under formal investigation on suspicion of disseminating violent images over tweets she posted of Islamic State executions, a judicial source said.

The investigation relates to three graphic images of Islamic State executions she posted on Twitter in December 2015, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

A spokesman for Ms Le Pen did not immediately respond to calls and text messages. Ms Le Pen had denounced an earlier stage of the investigation as “political interference”.

The judge’s decision to step up the investigation comes a little over a week ahead of the Front National’s annual congress, where she is expected to lay out how she plans to rebuild the battered party after her thumping defeat at the hands of President Emmanuel Macron in last spring’s election.

It is, though, unlikely to affect her popularity with party loyalists.

Other ongoing investigations, including one into allegations her party misused European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants and another into the financing of past election campaigns, have not dented her appeal among the Front National faithful.

Under France’s legal system, being formally placed under investigation often - but not always - leads to a person being sent to trial. – Reuters