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French pro-migrant farmer’s probation partially lifted

media Cédric Herrou leaving court in Nice, France on October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Cédric Herrou’s probation was partially terminated by the Aix-en-Provence appeals court on Friday, according to his lawyer, in a victory for pro-migrant activists.

Previously banned from leaving the country, Herrou can now travel freely, according to his lawyer Bruno Rebstock.

“Cedric Herrou has retrieved his passport, can leave the country after informing a judge, and can freely travel by train,” Rebstock told AFP.

However, Herrou can only travel to nearby Italy “for professional reasons,” according to Rebstock.

The probation terms requiring Herrou to check in at a local police station every two weeks have been maintained.

Lengthy legal battle

Herrou, an olive farmer who lives in southern France’s Roya Valley near the Italian border, had requested an early termination of probation at the Aix-en-Provence appeals court on Thursday.

His argument was largely bolstered by a recent decision from France’s Constitutional Council, which ruled in July that providing humanitarian aid or “permissible help” to an illegal immigrant was not a punishable offense. Permissible help was defined as "providing legal advice, food, lodging or medical care” and “all other help that aims to preserve dignity or physical well-being".

Over the last couple years Herrou has accompanied migrants seeking to apply for asylum in France by helping them cross the Franco-Italian border. He has also housed migrants in a disused building owned by state-owned rail operator SNCF near his farm.

The Aix-en-Provence court placed him on probation last July following his arrest at a Cannes train station for helping asylum seekers cross the border.

The following month, the same court handed him a four-month suspended sentence for facilitating illegal immigration.

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