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France's Marine Le Pen charged over gruesome ISIS tweets

Far-right National Front leader's tweets in December 2015 showed executions by ISIS extremists

March 01, 2018

France's far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen was charged Thursday by French prosecutors for 'distribution of violent images' that she posted on Twitter. (François Lo Presti/AFP/Getty Images)

French prosecutors filed preliminary charges Thursday against far-right leader Marine Le Pen for tweeting brutal images of ISIS violence, in a new blow to a politician long seen as the face of Europe's anti-immigrant populism.

The prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said the charges were issued Thursday 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 75,000 euros ($117,000 Cdn) in fines.

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

Le Pen didn't comment publicly on Thursday's preliminary charges, 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 her party, the National Front.

In one high-profile investigation, she and the party were given preliminary charges last year over accusations that they used European Parliament aides for party activity while they were on EU-financed salaries. She denies wrongdoing.

The charges come while Le Pen's party is in crisis after she lost her presidential bid last year. She 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.

But French voters overwhelmingly favoured pro-Europe centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 2017 election, and Le Pen was a distant runner-up.

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