TWITTER CRACKDOWN: Kurt Eichenwald’s Internet Attacker ARRESTED (TWEETS)

Of all the incidents of violence that have occurred since Election Day, one of the most outrageous by far occurred on the night of December 15-16. One of the many pro-Donald Trump trolls floating around on Twitter got the bright idea to send Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald a flashing GIF telling him he deserved a seizure for his attacks on Trump. The bottom-feeder was well aware that Eichenwald is not only one of Trump’s loudest critics in the press, but has battled epilepsy for three decades.

Well, the bill is about to come due for a so-called man who is a deplorable in every sense of the word. On Friday, the FBI arrested a Maryland man who has been identified as the person responsible for sending that tweet.

Early on Friday morning, FBI agents descended on the home of John Rivello in Salisbury and arrested him on charges of cyberstalking with intent to kill or cause bodily harm. Rivello is suspected of being the person behind the Twitter account “@jew_goldstein,” who sent Eichenwald the now-infamous tweet.

According to Eichenwald’s attorney, Steven Lieberman, when Eichenwald saw the tweet, it triggered a particularly bad seizure that sent his client to the floor. When his wife, Theresa, saw him on the floor, she called 911 and fired off this warning to the coward.

As a result of this outrageous stunt, Eichenwald lost some feeling in his left hand and had difficulty speaking for a time. Under Texas law, he could not drive for at least three months.

Eichenwald didn’t take this lying down, and vowed to nail this bottom-feeder to the wall. He sought and received permission to seek Twitter’s help in identifying the deplorable behind the “@jew_goldstein” account. A week after Christmas, the bottom-feeder filed a motion to keep himself from being unmasked because–wait for it–revealing his identity would endanger his right to free speech. Uh huh. So harassment and criminal assault are now protected under the First Amendment?

As it turned out, this only delayed the inevitable. Within days of this laughable motion from “@jew_goldstein,” Lieberman told the court that he and his team had discovered the bottom-feeder’s identity–and thus no longer needed Twitter’s help.

FBI agents discovered a number of Twitter direct messages showing Rivello openly bragging about his outrageous and criminal behavior. Among some of them:

“I hope this sends him into a seizure”
“Spammed this at (Eichenwald) let’s see if he dies”
“I know he has epilepsy”

They also took a peek at his iCloud account and discovered a screenshot of Eichenwald’s Wikipedia page, which had been altered to suggest he’d died on December 16. They also discovered screenshots from the Epilepsy Foundation’s Website showing commonly reported seizure triggers, as well as screenshots of the Dallas Observer’s coverage of Eichenwald’s effort to unmask him.

Lieberman, who is representing Eichenwald pro bono, wants one thing made clear–this was no prank. As far as Lieberman and Eichenwald are concerned, what Rivello did “was no different from sending someone a bomb in the mail or sending an envelope filled with anthrax spores.” He believes Rivello’s arrest should send the message that “there is no free shot against journalists in the country.”

Rivello may have been laughing at the time, but he definitely won’t be laughing when he finds out that he could face up to 10 years in federal prison for this outrageous stunt. He could also face state charges in Texas when he is transferred there next week.

He might not be the only one getting a knock on the door in the coming days. Eichenwald was bombarded with strobe tweets for much of December and January. After Rivello’s arrest, he warned the bottom-feeders that they shouldn’t get too comfortable.

Considering the circumstances, 10 years seems awfully light. Remember, Rivello, and presumably the other trolls, were well aware that Eichenwald could have died. To my mind, 10 years ought to be the minimum sentence for such behavior.

As it stands now, both federal and state prosecutors need to find a way to keep Rivello and the others who did this to Eichenwald locked up for as long as legally possible. For years, trolls have deliberately tried to cause seizures with malicious GIFs and JavaScript code with the goal of frightening them into silence. It’s time–past time, actually–to send the message that this is not a game. It’s a crime.

(featured image courtesy MSNBC via Mediaite)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.