A man from Maryland has been arrested and faces charges of cyberstalking after he allegedly sent a tweet of animated strobe lights to Kurt Eichenwald, a journalist who has epilepsy.
The flashing “Gif” image had been sent to Kurt Eichenwald, a writer and editor for Newsweek and Vanity Fair in December, including a message, “You deserve a seizure for your post,” reported a criminal complaint.
Arrest and Suspect Charges
Eichenwald stated that the images had triggered an epileptic seizure, and he hoped to investigate and identify whoever sent it to him.
“After a 3 month investigation, the FBI this morning arrested the man who assaulted me using a strobe on twitter that triggered a seizure,” tweeted Eichenwald.
The police and FBI in Maryland as well as Dallas, Texas, where Eichenwald lives, investigated his case, followed by an arrest of John Rayne Rivello, 29, last Friday.
Rivello, a resident of Salisbury, Maryland, is being charged with the crime of cyberstalking, as he appeared Friday in federal court.
Rivello’s Twitter account allegedly included direct messages to other users about Eichenwald, that said statements such as, “I hope this sends him into a seizure,” “Spammed this at (victim) let’s see if he dies,” and “I know he has epilepsy,” stated in the allegations on the affidavit that had been unsealed on Friday.
Investigators discovered screen shots one epilepsy website containing a list regarding common triggers for epilepsy seizures along with an article from a local Dallas news outlet that discussed Eichenwald’s attempts to subpoena the social media site Twitter in order to find the user that sent the images, said the affidavit.
After the initial incident, “More than 40 ppl sent strobes once they found out they could trigger seizures,” tweeted Eichenwald. “Stop sending them,” he said.
He stated that identifying information regarding the people that sent him the strobe images are “currently in the hands of the FBI.”