The UK Daily Mail is reporting that French federal prosecutors are calling for nationalist politician Marine Le Pen to be charged with ‘circulating violent pictures liable to be seen by children’, a charge which reportedly carries a potential 3 year jail term and up to 65,000 Euros in fines.
Le Pen posted messages to Twitter in December 2015, one of which showed a slain journalist, prompting investigation from the French government. The photo showed slain American journalist James Foley after he had been decapitated by ISIS.
These photos were published in the wake of ISIS killing 130 people in attacks in Paris, and drew widespread condemnation from the French media and political establishments. As punishment for these tweets, the French government has opened a wide reaching investigation, even court ordering her to take a psychiatric exam in connection with the investigation.
Le Pen has characterized the governments behavior as a political prosecution, and a violation of her freedom of expression. She characterized the investigative magistrate’s order for her psychiatric evaluation as “frightening” behavior, a stance which many who have been concerned with the free speech laws in France would agree with.
The French have been under fire in the last year for a law banning all speech which the government defines as “hate speech”, taking the highly restrictive step of banning the expression of certain opinions. This follows a pattern of laws restricting speech which have been imposed in the UK, Canada and Australia among others.
During a time where the Yellow Vest Protests are at a fever pitch, and the French people are questioning their political establishment to a greater degree than ever before, one can only imagine more speech restrictions are on the way in France. Le Pen’s prosecution serves as a warning to the entire Western world for what may happen if anti speech laws are passed and enforced.