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India Still Waiting on Shami Witness Evidence

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the prolific Tweeter, ISIS news disseminator and aggregator, aka @ShamiWitness, has been incarcerated in India since December, 2014. He wasn't charged until June, 2015. And he still hasn't been tried. In May, the Indian media reported his trial might begin in June. June is just about gone. What's the latest?

Despite claiming they had a good case, it appears India is struggling with proving the charges. India is just now seeking "letters rogatory" for Google and Facebook to provide information on Shami Witness' email accounts. (Here's a description of "letters rogatory"). India sought Google's help directly in November, 20015 and has yet to receive a response. Will Letters Rogatory make a difference?

Out of more than 100,000 tweets, police say they have found one in which he gave out information about an open border crossing between Turkey and Syria. I explained here in detail why I don't think that tweet shows criminal intent. [More...]

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Shami Witness Update: India Wants to Add More Charges

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @Shami Witness, has been in custody since December 13, 2014. He was not charged until June, 2015. He has still not been tried.

What's the holdup? Indian authorities are waiting on Google to respond to a subpoena. They believe Google's response will identify more accounts Biswas used to tweet out his ISIS news updates and opinions. They intend to file a second charge sheet against him with more charges.

The police suspect Biswas ran multiple e-mail accounts which they could not access. “We are yet to get a response from Google. The access and information provided will help to file an additional charge sheet,” said M. Chandrashekhar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).

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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...]

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India Prepares 28k Chargesheet Against Shami Witness

The Bangladore Police say they will file charges against Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @Shami Witness, next week.

We have finally received the MHA’s approval. Now, we will file the chargesheet against him next week. We have built a solid case. We had to prove how he conspired and helped the IS. Consequently, the chargesheet is one of the longest in recent times,” a source in the Bengaluru Police said. The chargesheet is supposed to be in excess of 28,000 pages.

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Indian Court Denies Bail for Shami Witness

#Shami Witness, aka Mehdi Masroor Biswas, was denied bail today by a Special Terrorism Court in Bangladore. The court also granted police another 6 months to file charges. The request was made a month ago.

Shami Witness, the prolific tweeter and disseminator of ISIS news, with 17,000 followers on Twitter, was arrested in December. Four months later, formal charges have yet to be filed and the court just got around to hearing his application for bail. [More...]

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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...]

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Shami Witness: Police Identify Potentially Criminal Tweet

The Indian press reports today on the evidence that will be used against Shami Witness. A key piece will be a tweet by Shami in response to repeated requests by a would-be militant recruit using the handle @TalabAlHaqq for information on how to make the crossing from Turkey to Syria. He had been waiting for months in Turkey. [More....]

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Shami Witness's Detention Extended Until Jan. 15

Shami Witness, the tweeter from India who posted ISIS news updates with favorable comments, went to court yesterday. His police detention is over, and he has been remanded to judicial custody until Jan. 15.

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi told reporters: "During interrogation, we figured that he (Biswas) was in direct touch with ISIS fighters. We have gathered evidence to show that he supported IS. Apart from proactively tweeting for the group, his messages prove that he encouraged youths to join the organisation."

The police also said that their investigation into his role in working as a propagandist was complete. "He cooperated during interrogation and never refused to share any information that we sought. We will seek his custody if required in the coming days based on inputs from the National Investigation Agency," a police source said.

Another police source says: [More...]

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Indian Police: Shami Witness Just a Cheerleader

Indian police, with the help of Twitter, have now gone through Shami Witness' (Mehdi Masroor Biswas)list of 17,000 plus followers and his tweets. What have they found?

Sources privy to the investigation, meanwhile, admitted that sleuths are yet to find anything incendiary, which involves Mehdi directly. An officer said they haven't come across any tweet in which Mehdi asks for specific acts of terrorism to be committed. "He is more of a cheerleader. He supported ISIS activities, shared messages backing the outfit and egged on the cadres, saying what they were doing was right," he said.

Out of his 17,000 followers, police were interested in about 50 of them. They sent those 50 emails, asking the following questions: [More...]

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Shami Witness' Detention Extended for 15 Days

Police in India have obtained a 15 day extension of time to hold Shami Witness (Mehdi Masroor Biswas) as they continue their investigation of him and his Twitter account. They had asked for an additional 25 days. Shami has been allowed to meet with his parents.

Biswas was arrested under Sec 125 of IPC (waging war against the Government of any Asiatic power in alliance or at peace with the Government of India or attempts to wage such war or abetting waging of such war), Sec 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sec 66 of the Information Technology Act.

India has now moved to have ISIS added to its list of designated terror organizations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. However, the list already included any organizations that were designated terror organizations by the U.N. and ISIS has been designated by the U.N.

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India May Be Softening Stance on Shami Witness

India Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave a statement to Parliament about the arrest of Shami Witness yesterday.

"The interrogation of Mehdi Biswas has indicated that his activities were limited to posting and reposting of pro-ISIS (as the IS was previously known) material on his Twitter account and social media sites," the minister said.

...He used to visit prominent IS-related sites, mostly those in the Arabic language, and then used Web-based tools to translate the contents into English and repost the material on his Twitter account, Rajnath told Parliament.

He didn't call Shami a terrorist or jihadist, instead describing him as someone who "interacted with people on social networking sites 'on matters related to jihad'." He portrayed him as more "swagger than substance."

Other senior Indian officials told the Telegraph police would not have arrested Shami but for the media pressure. [More...]

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Indian Police Reactivate Shami Witness' Twitter Account

Indian police have put Shami Witness' Twitter Account back online so they can investigate his tweets and all the people who followed him. All of his tweets are here. (You can read them without following him.)

You can also read what his supporters are saying about his arrest at the hashtag #FreeShamiWitness. [More...]

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"Shami Witness" Arrested in India

"Shami Witness", the prolific tweeter about ISIS who was outed Friday by a British news channel, has been arrested in India. He's being investigated for a violation of the Information Technology Act.

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the person behind Twitter handle "@shamiwitness", is a 24-year-old engineer who worked for a multinational in Bengaluru, police said. He moved to the city in 2011 and stays in Bengaluru's upscale southeast suburb. Police said he is an alumnus of West Bengal Institute of Technology.

Sources say Mehdi did not have any direct link with Al Qaida or Islamic State group and nothing as yet suggests he was in direct touch with any jihadi element....So far, no anti-India activity or tweets posted by Mehdi have been found. Nothing has been found to infer Mehdi suggested any attacks in India, say sources.

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