Marine Le Pen was convicted of defamation against a French NGO helping migrants, Cimade, which she had accused of being accomplices to smugglers. She was ordered to pay €500 and sustain court costs.
Marine Le Pen, former leader of France's far-right party the National Rally, was found guilty of defamation against Cimade, an NGO helping migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers and providing them legal aid.
During an interview broadcast on BFMTV in January 2022, Le Pen - who stepped down as leader of the National Rally in November of that same year - accused the French NGO of "sometimes" being "accomplices of smugglers" involved in an "illegal immigration network from the Comoros" in Mayotte.
The island of Mayotte is an overseas French department in the Indian Ocean, located between Mozambique and Madagascar.
"Are humanitarian associations complicit in the crime of entry?", Le Pen was asked by a reporter. "Sometimes yes. They are even complicit with smugglers", she responded, before focusing specifically on Cimade.
"Cimade actually organises the illegal immigration network coming from the Comoros” in Mayotte, she said.
At the time, Le Pen was a candidate in the April 2022 presidential election, then won by Emmanuel Macron. She registered her highest score in the first round of the election in Mayotte thanks to her focus on illegal immigration.
On Friday, a French court found her guilty of defamation over her statement on Cimade and ordered her to pay the French NGO a suspended fine of €500. She will also have to pay €2,000 in court costs and €1 in damages.
According to the court, Le Pen's remarks "exceeded the dose of exaggeration possible in the context in which they were uttered". "The limits of freedom of expression (have) been crossed", the court pronounced.