French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has refused to undergo psychiatric examination that was ordered by a court after she tweeted graphic pictures of Isis violence.

The National Rally leader told a judge to “try and force” her to undergo mental health evaluation, requested as part of an investigation into the dissemination of violent images.

Ms Le Pen posted three graphic images showing Isis executions, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley, on Twitter in November 2015.

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She was charged over the pictures earlier this year.

Medical evaluations are a routine part of French criminal proceedings, but Ms Le Pen’s response fits the party’s narrative that it is persecuted by judges as part of an establishment attempt to undermine it politically.

She tweeted: “I thought I had seen it all: but no! For having denounced the horrors of #Daesh in tweets, the ‘justice’ is submitting me to a psychiatric evaluation! How far will they go? It’s UNBELIEVABLE.”

She later told reporters she would not submit to evaluation. “I’d like to see how the judge would try and force me do it,” she said.

The investigation is one of a series that have distracted her party, formerly known as the National Front, as it seeks to rebuild following her loss to President Emmanuel Macron in the second round of last year’s election.

Ms Le Pen and her party is also facing a probe into alleged misuse of European Union funds.

She was charged with distributing violent images in March. If the case reaches trial and she is convicted, she could face up to three years in prison and a €75,000 (£66,500) fine.

She had posted the Isis images weeks after 130 people died in Paris in attacks orchestrated by the Islamic terror group in November 2015.

As well as a photograph of Foley’s decapitated body, she tweeted images showing a tank rolling over a man in an orange jumpsuit and a man being burned alive in a cage.

“Daesh is THIS!” Ms Le Pen wrote alongside the images, using an offensive Arabic name for the group.

According to a copy of a court document dated 11 September and published by Ms Le Pen on Twitter, the court requested an evaluation to assess if she suffers from any mental illness that could have affected her understanding of what she was doing when she posted the tweets.

The results would also be used to determine whether her mental health could be a risk to the public.

Ms Le Pen told BFM TV that totalitarian regimes used such methods against opponents to “make them look like they’re crazy”.

Her hard-left rival Jean-Luc Melenchon suggested the evaluation was unnecessary because Ms Le Pen was “politically responsible for her political acts.”

“This is not how we will weaken the far-right,” he said.

However, Italy’s far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini denounced the court order, tweeting: “Words fail me! Solidarity with her and with the French who love freedom!” 

Agencies contributed to this report

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