Journalist Kurt Eichenwald shared today that a Trump supporter, who allegedly sent him a strobing GIF meant to cause an epileptic seizure via Twitter, has been arrested.
After a December appearance on Fox News, a Twitter troll sent a flashing message to Eichenwald that read "you deserve a seizure," which triggered an epileptic episode.
An alleged Twitter troll behind a virtual attack that caused Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald to suffer a seizure was arrested on Friday. The suspect faces federal charges and could face additional counts in Dallas, where Eichenwald lives, according to the writer.
Steven Lieberman, Eichenwald’s lawyer, named the suspect as John Rivello. A law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the name. FBI officials arrested the man at his home in in Salisbury, Maryland, around 7 a.m. on Friday, according to Lieberman. Rivello was expected to appear at a hearing in federal court in Baltimore on Friday afternoon, Lieberman said.
“What Mr. Rivello did with his Twitter message was no different from someone sending a bomb in the mail or sending an envelope filled with Anthrax spores,” Lieberman says. “It wasn’t the content of the communication that was intended to persuade somebody or make them feel badly about themselves; This was an electronic communication that was designed to have a physical effect.”
On December 15, hours after Eichenwald appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Twitter user @jew_goldstein tweeted a strobing image to the writer that allegedly said, “You deserve a seizure.” Later that night, in a reply to @jew_goldstein, a post appeared on the Eichenwald’s Twitter feed that said, “This is his wife, you caused a seizure. I have your information and have called the police to report the assault.”
The next day, Eichenwald tweeted that he would be working with lawyers and law enforcement. “Last night, for the second time, a deplorable aware I have epilepsy tweeted a strobe at me with the message ‘you deserve a seizure’ on it,” he wrote. “It worked. This is not going to happen again. My wife is terrified. I am...disgusted.”
Eichenwald had previously written for Newsweek about his being epileptic and about how another person had sent him a strobing message. That attack did not cause a seizure.
Eichenwald filed a petition in Dallas County court on December 19, requesting an expedited discovery process so that he could seek records from Twitter. A judge granted the petition later that day.
Eichenwald shared via Twitter today:
After a 3 month investigation, the FBI this morning arrested the man who assaulted me using a strobe on twitter that triggered a seizure.— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) March 17, 2017
Identifying information about every person who sent me strobes after finding out about the assault is currently in the hands of the FBI.— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) March 17, 2017
More than 40 ppl sent strobes once they found out they could trigger seizures. Details of their cases are with the FBI. Stop sending them.— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) March 17, 2017