Two Mexicans face 30 years in the clink over 'prank' tweets  10 years ago

Two Mexicans face 30 years in the clink over 'prank' tweets

A radio commentator and a math tutor in Mexico face 30 years behind bars after sending tweets deemed to be acts of terrorism and sabotage.

Gilberto Martinez Vera and Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola could both face a maximum of 30 years in prison after sending tweets about false kidnappings that were supposedly happening at schools across Mexico.

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On August 25 in Veracruz, the streets were filled with convoys of Marines, which locals assumed was to do with the ongoing drugs war that has plagued Mexico. This was the day Gilberto Martinez Vera sent a tweet that could end up costing him dearly.

"My sister-in-law just called me all upset, they just kidnapped five children from the school," Martinez tweeted.

However, no kidnapping ever took place. According to Vera’s defence lawyer, Claribel Guevara, the rumours had already been circulated around Twitter and Mr. Vera was simply re-tweeting the messages. She never claimed he had first hand knowledge about the incident.

Prosecutors are also blaming Ms. Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola for the false kidnapping. The radio commentator, once a state arts official, was re-tweeting the messages she heard about the incident, but is believed to be responsible for starting the rumour.

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Her Facebook site now features the Twitter logo, a little bluebird, blindfolded and standing in front of the scales of justice, with the slogan "I too am a TwitTerrorist."

The issue arose because Mexican drug cartels commonly use Twitter to cause panic in the streets, making it easier to move drugs around the country. In one case, a wave of messages about impending violence shut down schools, bars and restaurants in the central city of Cuernavaca last year according to stuff.co.nz.

The case continues.