The Strange Case of Mexico’s ‘Twitter Terrorists’

Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola, a well-known 57-year-old Mexican journalist and radio commentator, is currently sitting in a Coatepec jail along with 47-year-old math teacher Gilberto Martinez Vera. Their alleged crime? Tweeting incorrect information about potential August 25 school terrorist attacks in the Veracruz area that authorities claim were the trigger for mass hysteria and several dozen car accidents.

Per Daniel Hernandez’s Monday article in the LA Times, the pair could face a maximum jail sentence of 30 years. An attorney claims the suspects are being used to set an unfair example and on Monday asked a federal judge to order their release:

Martinez had tweeted about a supposed attack at a primary school in the municipality of Boca del Rio, next to the city of Veracruz. His tweet said: “They took 5 kids, armed group, total psychosis in the zone.” He cited a sister-in-law but later said he had misidentified the school, and then mentioned another, all of which added to the confusion.

Despite protests from Amnesty International and an online campaign in support of Martinez and Bravo, Veracruz does not appear to be budging in its efforts to pursue the terrorism charges against them.

The case has generated lots of foreign newspaper media coverage and a public outcry on Twitter under the hastag #verfollow. Fifteen other tweeters are also reportedly being investigated by Veracruz authorities.