Material support vs. Twitter spewage

RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency, reported on Tuesday that a Pennsylvania resident had been arrested for pro-ISIS propaganda on Twitter.

It would have been eye-popping if true: the US has the First Amendment – it’s Russia and the EU countries (including the UK, sadly) that criminalize speech by branding it “extremist,” “racist” or otherwise offensive.

Actually, the man is charged with “conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” As a US Attorney explained,

The charges in this case focus on Aziz’s efforts to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for the Islamic State.

The FBI’s complaint has more on these efforts:

Aziz is alleged to have posted a hyperlink containing the names, addresses and other identifying information of 100 reported members of the U.S. military and calls for violence against them. …Aziz also allegedly used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIL.  …Aziz allegedly acted as an intermediary between a person in Turkey and several well-known members of ISIL.  …Aziz passed location information, including maps and a telephone number, between these ISIL supporters.

Sounds rather different from merely spreading ISIS poison via Twitter. Some Russian reporters may sincerely believe that the western world, especially the US, is essentially the same cesspool as Russia. In their minds, if people can be slapped with a criminal conviction for liking a Facebook post in Russia, why not in the US?

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