A man in New York who tweeted an offer of $500 to anyone ready to murder a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer was acquitted on Friday.
The case against 35-year-old Brandon Ziobrowski focused on whether a dangerous social media post is protected speech under the First Amendment.
A federal jury in Boston removed Ziobrowski of using interstate and foreign commerce to send a threat after a week of testimony. He had faced up to 5 years in jail and a $250,000 fine if condemned.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told that his office will never stop to prosecute threats made against law enforcement officers.
“We appreciate the jury’s verdict. But in this case, the defendant uploaded a tweet that, on its face, offered $500 to anyone who murdered a federal agent,” Lelling mentioned in a statement. “In 2019, over 100 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. The public requires to know that, regardless of today’s judgment, we will never stop to prosecute apparent threats against law enforcement officers.”
Ziobrowski lived in Cambridge, Mass., at the moment of the threat last year.
Twitter suspended Ziobrowski’s account after discovering of the threats. His attorney, Derege Demissie, argued that the tweets are protected speech and had been blown out of proportion by authorities.
“This is a person who tweets regarding all kinds of things and tells outrageous things,” he told.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann told that Ziobrowski’s comments were clear and put the lives of law enforcement officers at danger. She told that he never indicated whether he was kidding or being sarcastic.