‘Torture can be useful to make people talk’: Le Pen

In the wake of the damning American Senate report on the CIA’s torture practices French far-right leader Marine Le Pen risked a backlash when in an interview she claimed there are times when torture can "be useful to make someone talk".

'Torture can be useful to make people talk': Le Pen
Torture can be useful sometimes, says Le Pen. Photo: AFP

The report uncovered the brutal CIA interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after 9/11 and sent shockwaves around Washington and the rest of the world.

The UN and human rights groups are now even calling for the prosecution of the US officials involved but Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing Front National party, seems to have a more understanding view of torture.  

Responding to questions on a damning report released in Washington over brutal techniques used by intelligence agents to extract information, Le Pen told BFM television earlier: "I don't personally disapprove."

"At certain times, for example when a bomb is about to explode and 200 civilians could get hurt, it can be useful to get a person to talk with whatever means you have,” she said.

"I personally believe the people who deal with terrorists and also getting information out of them to save civilian lives are responsible people," the leader of the far-right National Front party added.

"So has there been abuse? Maybe, and the US needs to determine this.

"Allow me to say this: There can be cases, for example when a bomb is ticking, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, and will explode in an hour or two and could cause 200 or 300 civilian victims when it is useful to get someone to talk."

Asked whether torture could be used to do so she said: "With the means at your disposal."

Once her comments caused a stir around the web Le Pen was forced to back track and denied she had defended torture.

In later comments on Twitter, Le Pen slammed a "malicious" interpretation of her remarks, saying she had meant "legal means, obviously not torture."

Following the release of the last French hostage, Serge Lazarevic, who was in captivity for three years, she also broached the subject of paying ransoms, which France has been accused of in the past.

She agrees with the American and Russian officials who refuse to negotiate with kidnappers, calling it the best approach because it lowers the incentive to take hostages in the first place.

“If I were president I wouldn’t pay ransoms,” she said. “This way you fund the kidnappers and the price for hostages rises.”

“I don’t think that all the means are good to secure the release of a hostage,” she said.

Le Pen made the headlines recently when it was revealed she had secured a €9 million loan for her party from a Russian bank.

A report seen by German media suggested Russia could make loans to far-right parties, like the National Front, that are in support of Putin and Moscow.

However, Le Pen once again rejected the claims the loan had political implications.

“These were groundless accusations. All the French banks refused to lend us money,” she said. “We have looked into the institution, together with our French bank. I am funded by a private bank not a foreign state.”

by Simone Flückiger/AFP

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