Mexico drops terrorism charges in Twitter case

September 21, 2011 - 6:40 PM

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — A Mexican man and woman who had been charged with terrorism for allegedly setting off a panic by tweeting rumors about nonexistent drug cartel attacks were freed Wednesday after prosecutors dropped the charges.

Criticism of the terrorism case led the Veracruz state legislature to pass a law Tuesday creating the charge of disturbing the peace to cover the situation purportedly created by the pair.

But state Interior Secretary Gerardo Buganza told Milenio Television on Wednesday that Gilberto Martinez and Maria de Jesus Bravo would not have to face the new charge.

Defense lawyer Claribel Guevara welcomed their release and praised the support they received from free speech advocates and others.

"Far from scaring people (to stay away from tweeting), it has shown there is great unity among users of social networks," Guevara said. "We all won because this is a victory for freedom of expression."

A judge charged the couple with terrorism and sabotage last month after Twitter messages appeared warning that the Zetas drug cartel planned attacks on schools in Veracruz city. The messages sparked chaos as parents rushed to look for their children.