Tweeter Shami Witness Charged With Terror Crimes in India

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @ShamiWitness, has been charged with numerous terror crimes for his favorable tweeting about ISIS. He was arrested in December. Most of the charges carry a maximum of seven years in prison.

Joint Commissioner of Police, M. Chandrashekhar said Mehdi was charged with eight sections of the Indian penal Code (IPC) including unlawful activities, conspiracy, supporting a terrorist organisation, waging war against the State, sedition and promoting enmity. The charge-sheet, containing 36,986 pages, was submitted to the Court on Monday.

The charges were filed by the Bengaluru police in the Metropolitan Magistrate Court. I haven't been able to find the actual chargesheet, but more descriptions are here and here. [More...]

The Times of India quotes the chargesheet:

"Accused Biswas ... was well aware of the fact that ISIS is known for its well-funded web and social media propaganda ... regularly taking advantage of the social media, particularly Twitter, distributed his messages by organizing hashtag campaigns, encouraging tweets on popular hashtags (IS related), and utilizing software applications that enable IS propaganda," read the chargesheet.

The chargesheet accused Mehdi of allowing his account to become a meeting place for ISIS supporters and even introduced top leadership.

His lawyer says:

Describing the chargesheet as "contrived", Biswas' lawyer and member of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights, Akmal Rizvi, said, "On March 23, the same police team told the court that they had no evidence to show that Biswas had committed a terrorist act. How has all that changed in just a matter of 45 days?"

More from the Bangladore Mirror here.

Free Shami Witness. He was an ISIS fanboy, a news disseminator and aggregator. 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 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 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.

As to his tweet about the Turkish border, here's what happened. A reflexive response to an inquiry for information about borders should not be enough to convict someone of waging war, giving material support to a terror group or mis-using computers.

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  • Display: Sort:
    36,986 pages (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 08:28:11 AM EST
    Is this a Guinness World Record?

    I tried finding an answer but couldn't find a search term that worked.

    Maybe it reprints all his tweets (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 01:17:35 PM EST
    Although, at 240 characters per, that probably couldn't explain it either.

    There are 15,000 pages of tweets (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 02:30:44 PM EST