Man jailed for Facebook insults

Web freedom of expression campaigners say conviction for insulting gendarmes online is the first of its kind in France

A MAN has been jailed for three months for insulting gendarmes on Facebook, in what is believed to be the first conviction of its kind in France.

The 19-year-old from Locmaria-Plozané in the Finistère left a series of angry messages on his online profile after he was pulled over while driving in January.

He was over the legal drink-drive limit and had to abandon his car and return home on foot.

The gendarmes in Faou, Finistère, found the remarks by accident, three months later.

As well as the three-month prison sentence, the tribunal correctionnel in Brest ordered the man to pay €1,200 in damages.

Web freedom of expression group Internet sans Frontières said the conviction was worrying.

"Imprisonment for insulting a person in public office is very rare," the group said in a statement.

"We get the impression that the judge considered the publication of Facebook to be an aggravating factor.

"A fine and a requirement to take down the comments from the Facebook profile would have been more acceptable."