French court orders divisive far-right politician to undergo psychological assessment after she disseminated images of extreme violence.
In what Ms Le Pen calls a government plot to discredit her, a court in Nanterre made the order whilst hearing the case against Ms Le Pen for sharing violent images on her Twitter account.
Mental health risk
The court wishes to determine whether she is ‘capable of understanding remarks and answering questions.’ The order also covers an examination of whether she poses a public mental health risk. The case dates back to March following the removal of her parliamentary immunity. She is charged with violating French laws regarding the distribution of messages that ‘incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity.’ Following the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, Ms Le Pen posted a number of violent images depicting IS atrocities to dispute media claims her party and Islamic State are alike. Tweets showed the body of beheaded American journalist James Foley, a man in an orange jumpsuit being crushed by a tank, and a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage. She captioned the images with the words: "Daesh is this!"
French law requires psychological assessments in such cases, but Ms Le Pen vowed to defy the order saying ‘I'd like to see how the judge would try to force me to do it.’ She posted an image of the court order on her Twitter account starting ‘It's genuinely STAGGERING. This regime is REALLY starting to be frightening.’ She signed the Tweet with her initials to show she wrote the message rather than a staff member. Ms Le Pen argues the case against her is a violation of her freedom of expression, and claims the government of France is employing the tactics of defamation similar to totalitarian regimes discrediting political opponents in an attempt ‘to make them look crazy.’ If convicted, Marine Le Pen faces up to three years in jail and a fine of €75,000.