Shami Witness: Police Seek Another 6 Months to File Charges

Pro-ISIS Tweeter and news disseminator Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @Shami Witness, arrested in India in December, 2014, is still in custody in India. No charges have been filed. He hasn't had a bail hearing yet. The latest 90 day extension of time to file a charge sheet expires this week.

On March 9, Bangladore police requested an additional six months to file a charge sheet.

A hearing on the request and Shami's petition for bail may be set for next week. How can India hold someone for 120 days without a bail hearing? [More...]

Shami Witness is a tweeter who was faster with the news and more prolific than most. He didn't recruit for ISIS, he had no contact with ISIS leadership, he wasn't paid by ISIS. Is it a crime to report favorably about a group everyone hates? If so, then millions more Twitter users, including some journalists and expert analysts and researchers may be subject to arrest. So far, police have publicly pointed to one series of tweets (about the border in Turkey) they found incriminating. If his twitter feed is so encouraging of ISIS, why have they left it up?

My opinion remains the same today as it was the day he was arrested:

Shami Witness did not recruit for ISIS. He was not a member of ISIS. There's no indication he got his information from any official ISIS source. He was followed by so many Western militants, researchers, analysts, journalists and bloggers because of his reputation as being knowledgeable and because (1) his English was very good and (2) he knew who to follow on Twitter to get and tweet out the news faster than most. There's no indication he was paid or compensated by ISIS. Yes, he took ISIS' side in his tweets. But he also disagreed with them at times. Yes, he communicated with some British ISIS fighters and retweeted the accounts of ISIS fighters. Yes he is a propagandist of ISIS views. But as al-Timini says, his role on Twitter was really just one of a disseminator and aggregator of ISIS news.

...I find ISIS' actions as abhorrent as everyone else does. I think ISIS' views are a twisted interpretation of Islam and that Sharia law is barbaric. But I still say Free Shami Witness. Expressing one's support for an unpopular group one isn't a member of and hasn't provided tangible assistance to should not be a crime.

Police in India have had long enough. They should either file the charges this week, free him or release him on bail. #FreeShamiWitness.

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