Texas student arrested for threats posted on Internet
TEXAS — So called “terrorist threats” posted on the Internet and allegedly linked to a University of Texas-El Paso student, were enough to have him arrested and charged with threatening the life of a public official.
Jose Eduardo Saavedra would not comment on the felony charges initially brought against him in April, but his lawyer, Michael Gibson, said they were reduced to misdemeanors when uncertainties surfaced as to where the message originated. Gibson said an unidentified male claimed he posted the original message and sent him information proving Saavedra was not involved in June.
Despite the evidence, which Gibson said he sent directly to the FBI, the charges against Saavedra were not dropped. Gibson blamed “political” reasoning in the district attorney’s office and could not explain more.
Members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a computer civil liberties group, said proving Saavedra posted the message is virtually impossible. However, they agreed that the author’s speech is constitutionally protected expression.
The message was directed at California state senator Tim Leslie because of his push for the removal of protective laws for mountain lions in California.
“Instead of hunting mountain lions in California, let us declare open season on State Senator Tim Leslie,” the message read. “I think it would be great to see this slimeball, [expletive], conservative moron hunted down and skinned for our viewing pleasure … Pray for his death.”
A second message was also posted.
“Would I hunt down Tim or anyone else? No,” the message stated. “Would I be happy if some nut actually did such a thing? Yes … In America I have the right to pray for the death of anyone I want for any reason I want.”
Saavedra was linked to the message after the FBI subpoenaed the account provider the message was posted from, according to Gibson. Saavedra responded to problems with the account after it was shut down by the Bureau.
The case is still under investigation.
Fall 1996, reports