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Marine Le Pen Faces Possible Prosecution Over Graphic Tweets

A committee of the European Parliament voted to strip French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of the diplomatic immunity that comes with her role as a member of the EU governing body, over tweets showing graphic violence by members of ISIS.

A committee of the European Parliament has voted to strip French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of her immunity from prosecution, citing tweets she shared that contained graphic images of violence by the Islamic State.

Members of the legal affairs committee voted 18-3 earlier this week to recommend that Le Pen lose her immunity, writing of the images, which included the beheading of an American journalist, "it is beyond question that their violent nature is likely to undermine human dignity. Their publication therefore warrants the opening of criminal proceedings."

"The move was confirmed at a European parliament plenary session on Thursday," according to The Guardian, "following a request from the prosecutor of Nanterre in western Paris."

The newspaper continued:

"The prosecutor opened an inquiry under a French law banning the distribution of violent images or those inciting terrorism. [Le Pen] tweeted three uncensored pictures of ISIS killings in December 2015, after a spat with a journalist who had compared the [National Front] to ISIS."

In addition to her position as a leader of France's far-right National Front party, Le Pen has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004.

Reuters reported that Le Pen has lost her diplomatic immunity before, in 2013, also over comments she made about Muslim people.

"She was ... prosecuted in 2015 with 'incitement to discrimination over people's religious beliefs,' for comparing Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France during World War II," the wire service reported. "Prosecutors eventually recommended the charges be dropped."

As we have reported, Le Pen is also facing a scandal over alleged misuse of EU funds. "Le Pen has been asked to pay back more than $320,000 to the European Parliament because two of her aides in Brussels were actually working for her campaign in France," The Two-Way previously reported. "She has denied any wrongdoing."

Meanwhile, the former front-runner in the French presidential race, Francois Fillon, is polling in third place behind both Le Pen and the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Fillon announced Wednesday that he would continue his campaign despite allegations that he used public funds to pay his wife to do a fake government job.

Fillon is being investigated by French authorities and is expected to be called before judges on March 15, just over a month before the next round of voting on April 30.

On Wednesday, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reported that Fillon "called the timing of the investigation evidence that it was an attempt at political assassination."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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