Seriously this is happening! It is being reported that a former teacher turned radio commentator and a math tutor is in a prison in southern Mexico, facing possible 30-year sentences for terrorism and sabotage in what may be the most serious charges ever brought against anyone using a Twitter social network account.
Prosecutors say the defendants helped cause a chaos of car crashes and panic as parents in the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz rushed to save their children because of false reports that gunmen were attacking schools. Gerardo Buganza, interior secretary for Veracruz state, compared the panic to that caused by Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. But he said the fear roused by that account of a Martian invasion of New Jersey “was small compared to what happened here.”
The charges say the messages caused such panic that emergency numbers “totally collapsed because people were terrified,” damaging service for real emergencies.
Veracruz, the state’s largest city, and the neighbouring suburb of Boca del Rio were already on edge after weeks of gunbattles involving drug traffickers. One attack occurred on a major boulevard. In another, gunmen tossed a grenade outside the city aquarium, killing an tourist and seriously wounding his wife and their two young children.
The Twitter users whose accounts have a few hundred followers could create mass panic by spreading lies. Defense attorneys also say their clients were held incommunicado for almost three days, unable to see a lawyer.It appears one of the most serious sets of charges ever brought for sending or resending Twitter messages.
Tweeter Paul Chambers was fined 385 pounds and ordered to pay 2,000 pounds ($3,225) in prosecution costs last year for tweeting that if northern England’s Robin Hood Airport didn’t reopen in time for his flight, “I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” Venezuelan authorities last year charged two people with spreading false information about the country’s banking system using Twitter and urging people to pull money out of banks. They could serve nine to 11 years in prison if convicted.
In 2009, a Chinese woman was sentenced to a year in a labour camp for posting a satirical Twitter message about the Japan pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.