Are Retweets Terror? Missouri Woman’s Arrest Raises Free Speech Questions

Are Retweets Terror? Missouri Woman’s Arrest Raises Free Speech Questions | Prosecutors say retweets signal active support for ISIS

With a lot of issues surrounding Internet-based communications yet to be litigated, the implications for the First Amendment could be vast. The latest legal test case for this is ongoing in Missouri, where 39-year-old Safya Roe Yassin has been arrested on terror charges.

The terror charges are centered on Ms. Yassin’s Twitter account, and her retweets of several posts which officials say are linked to ISIS. That she retweeted ISIS texts, prosecutors say, amounts to “active support” for ISIS and that she made “threats” by reposting the threats.

Her lawyers argue that reposting of the putatively illegal posts simply amounts to “reporting someone else’s statements,” and does not amount to a crime in and of itself. The relative newness of Twitter, however, makes the legal argument unclear.

Still and all, this case could have broad implications for the state of free speech as it relates to Twitter and other social media in which publicizing another person’s statement is possible. Government eagerness to crack down on ISIS speech on Twitter is well established, but whether it means they can jail people for tangential relation to the posts is uncertain.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

  • Mr_Mir

    So, arming them, training them, buying their oil and financing them on a government scale is fine. Retweeting them is criminal.

  • curmudgeonvt

    “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

  • Aug 13, 2016 Trump on Obama and ISIL: “I was being sarcastic but…”

    So, he was being sarcastic…sort of. Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump has backed down from comments calling Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama the founders of ISIL.

  • Bastiat

    Wow this is absurd! It is a clear violation of the 1st Amendment.

  • muggles

    Since there is no US declared war on ISIS, this act can’t be “wartime treason.”
    While such behavior is unwise, how can re-tweeting a short statement be a crime when journalists cite such tweets on a daily basis? Are they too also “traitors” giving aid and comfort? When did Orwellian Thoughtcrime become US law?
    Since this arrest is obviously illegal, it is being done to intimidate and silence anyone who wants to communicate independently from the official state controlled media. China is condemned for this kind of repression. Here, some flunky Asst. US Attorney will likely get a promotion for their “zeal” regardless of the outcome. One set of rules for them, other for us.