French far-right leader acquitted of breaching hate speech laws

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PARIS, May 4 (Reuters) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was acquitted on Tuesday of breaking hate speech laws in late 2015 when she posted images of Islamic State atrocities on Twitter.

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 had previously said she tweeted the images to highlight the absurdity of the comparison and had denied any wrongdoing, calling the trial politically motivated.

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

Opinion polls show 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 euros, far below the maximum sentence of three years in jail or a 75,000 euro penalty.

($1 = 0.8326 euros)

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Reporting by Tangi Salaun; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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