French far-right leader Marine Le Pen found not guilty of breaking hate speech laws

Politician posted images of ISIS atrocities on Twitter

French far-right leader Marine le Pen, center, wearing a protective face mask, talks to media after laying a wreath during a ceremony Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Far-right militants usually gather at the statue for their annual May Day march. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was on Tuesday acquitted of breaking hate speech laws in late 2015 when she posted images of ISIS 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 previously said she had posted the images to highlight the absurdity of the comparison and denied any wrongdoing, calling the trial politically motivated.

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

Opinion polls indicate Ms Le Pen will be 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 ($6,013) - far below the maximum sentence of three years in jail or a €75,000 penalty.

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