Leading French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen could face three years in prison and a $79,000 fine over three social media posts she made in 2015 showing images of brutal Islamic State killings.
On Thursday, the European Parliament voted to strip the far-right lawmaker of her parliamentary immunity, leaving her open to prosecution on charges of “publishing violent images.”
Le Pen called the move “political” and said it was meant to damage her campaign for president.
"I sent two or three photos of Daesh atrocities and I said 'This is Daesh.' I denounced this atrocity," she told French news agencies Thursday. "Why investigate me and not others? I am a lawmaker and I was denouncing Daesh in my role as a lawmaker."
In 2015, Le Pen posted pictures on Twitter of IS jihadists beheading U.S. journalist James Foley after a journalist compared Le Pen’s political party, the National Front, to the IS terrorist organization.
“Daesh is THIS!” Le Pen tweeted angrily in accompaniment to the photos.
The tweets drew criticism and anger from some French politicians and led a prosecutor in Paris to request Le Pen’s immunity be stripped.
The European lawmakers are provided immunity from French speech laws to allow them to speak freely in regards to their work in the European parliament. It can be lifted upon request from a national authority.
Opinion polls in France show Le Pen is the favorite to win the first round of voting in April, but centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron appears likely to beat out Le Pen in the second round.