June 10, 2004 | By Donna Wentworth

Enabling Free Speech is Not a Crime

In a victory for the First Amendment rights of Internet users, jurors returned a verdict today acquitting University of Idaho graduate student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen of terrorism charges. Hussayen had been charged in federal court with providing "material support" to terrorists in the form of "expert advice and assistance," based on his activities as webmaster for a number of websites and message boards serving Muslims. This same law, which was expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, has already been found unconstitutional by one federal court.

"Providing a forum for Internet speakers -- especially those with controversial political or religious views -- is a service to the First Amendment, not a crime," says Kevin Bankston, EFF's resident PATRIOT expert. "Hopefully, the jury's acquittal in this case will convince the Department of Justice to think twice before it again tries to prosecute someone for exercising his right to free speech."

For background on the case, see Anita Ramasastry's excellent column @ FindLaw.

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