Maryland man charged with hate crime for tweeting journalist Kurt Eichenwald a seizure-inducing image

Kurt Eichenwald in 2009
(Image credit: Charles Eshelman/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, a Dallas County jury indicted Maryland resident John Rayne Rivello, 29, on a hate-crime charge for tweeting a strobing image to author and investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald that induced a seizure. The tweet, sent right after Eichenwald had sparred with Fox News host Tucker Carlson about Donald Trump on Dec. 15, had included the message: "You deserve a seizure for your posts." Eichenwald has epilepsy, and Rivello was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; the hate-crime enhancement was added because of his alleged "bias or prejudice against a group identified by race, ancestry, or religion, namely: persons of Jewish faith or descent."

Rivello was arrested last week after police linked the offending Twitter handle @jew_goldstein to his phone number, then an Apple iCloud account with a copy of the animated GIF, a photo of Rivello holding up his Maryland driver's license, and screenshots of the tweet and response from Eichenwald's wife, Eichenwald's home address, a list of triggers for epileptic seizures, and a Wikipedia bio of Eichenwald listing his death as Dec. 16, the day after the tweet that triggered Eichenwald's eight-minute seizure. Police also found a number of direct messages that mentioned Eichenwald in the @jew_goldstien account, including: "I know he has epilepsy," "I hope this sends him into a seizure," "let's see if he dies," and Eichenwald "deserves to have his liver pecked out by a pack of emus."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.