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Police In Britain Arrest Man For Bomb-Threat Joke On Twitter 577

Posted by timothy
from the credibility-gap-looms dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A British man was arrested under anti-terrorism legislation for making a bomb joke on Twitter. Paul Chambers, 26, was arrested under the provisions of the Terrorism Act (2006). His crime? Frustrated at grounded flights over inclement weather, he made a joke bomb threat on the social networking site Twitter."
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Police In Britain Arrest Man For Bomb-Threat Joke On Twitter

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:55AM (#30805932)

    Not only would have have probably dozens of personally identifying twitters already written in the past, he didn't think his comment would warrant such a response to begin with.

  • Re:Gah (Score:5, Informative)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:33AM (#30806098)
    Guy Fawkes was a terrorist.

    Guy Fawkes was a revolutionary.
  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:39AM (#30806132) Journal

    The NuLabour is not "leftist" by any means. Old Labour was. Old Labour is no more.

    Law & order bullshit is right wing. It's the shit peddled by the likes of Sarkozy and Berlusconi that gets such morons elected (by retired assholes).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:42AM (#30806164)

    Offense taken!

    We're not the USofA so we don't have a D.A. or felonies, and he was arrested and questioned - he has not yet been trialled and indeed has not yet even been charged with anything.

    He *may* be charged with "conspiring to create a bomb hoax" - that he did not intend to actually bomb the place is irrelevant.

    Of course it is all a bit of an overreaction, but we might at least get the facts/terms right or it cheapens us all. It might also prevent him being a douche in future :-)

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by rve (4436) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:43AM (#30806166)

    (Leftist party is kind of expected to make such draconian laws in order to "protect" public: it is the very essence of being nanny state.)

    I think you're projecting the American situation on another country.

    What it means to be 'liberal' or 'conservative' can be vastly different depending where you are. In mainland Europe 'Liberals' tend to favor more freedom (hence the name liberal) at the expense of having less order and safety, while conservatives tend to favor more order and security at the expense of more repression.

    You might find that the conservative vs liberal divide is (as far as I'm aware) uniquely American.

    Some anecdotal evidence:

    In Turkey, conservatives struggle to protect the strict separation of religion and state against liberals who wish to relax it. Where I live, conservative Christian politicians find their natural allies in the Green party, both wanting to roll the country back to some mythical idyllic past when it looked the way either God or Mother Nature intended, homosexuals join extreme right wing parties (because they feel threatened by Muslim immigration), liberals aim to restrict government interference in people's lives while conservatives wish the government to protect us from every real and imaginary threat conceivable.

  • by VShael (62735) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:01AM (#30806260) Journal

    The IRA gave coded telephone warnings a few minutes in advance.
    This was NOT to allow civilians time to escape, or reduce the number of civilian casualties.

    It was to verify that the IRA were the ones responsible for the attack, because after an attack there was usually a RUSH of extremist groups stepping forward to claim responsibility. The IRA wanted to make sure they got appropriate "credit" for the attack.

  • Re:Typical.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by krou (1027572) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:12AM (#30806320)
    Umm, actually, that's not what happened (at least, that's not what was reported). As this news article [independent.co.uk] makes clear, 'On 13 January, after apparently receiving a tip-off from a member of the public, police arrived at Mr Chambers' office.' Although, that doesn't make it any better to know that people have now been so conditioned in the UK that they've become snoops.
  • Re:Gah (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@sp[ ]co.uk ['ad.' in gap]> on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:37AM (#30806428) Homepage

    Then they're morons. Guy Fawkes Night isn't a celebration of Guy Fawkes; there's a reason why the central element of the night is lighting a large bonfire and placing an effigy of Mr Fawkes onto it. At least, where it's observed correctly and not used simply as an excuse to let off fireworks, but as with most festivals the original meaning is lost pretty quickly.

  • Re:Gah (Score:3, Informative)

    by arethuza (737069) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:39AM (#30806436)
    He isn't celebarted, he is burnt in effigy. Of course, given the sectarian component it is possible that some communities might have celebrated him, but I haven't heard of that.
  • by tehcyder (746570) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:05AM (#30806558) Journal

    he has not yet been trialled

    In the UK we don't use "trialled" as a verb like that - it should be "he has not yet been put on trial".

    A new product might be trialled, not a person in court.

  • by judgecorp (778838) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:13AM (#30806602) Homepage
    At eWEEK Europe, we have spoken to his employers, and confirmed that he is suspended from work [eweekeurope.co.uk] for the next couple of weeks. The damage to his work prospects may be the most serious aspect of the story. We await any comment from the company concerned. Peter Judge
  • by Seismologist (617169) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:28AM (#30806662)
    This pretty much sums it up for me from TFA:

    The civil libertarian Tessa Mayes, an expert on privacy law and free speech issues, said: "Making jokes about terrorism is considered a thought crime, mistakenly seen as a real act of harm or intention to commit harm. "The police's actions seem laughable and suggest desperation in their efforts to combat terrorism, yet they have serious repercussions for all of us. In a democracy, our right to say what we please to each other should be non-negotiable, even on Twitter."

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:38AM (#30806716)
    It was reported by a member of the public.

    The police acted on information that someone had made an internet threat to blow up an airport. Chinese Whispers anyone?

    They couldn't risk not arresting the guy. And it took a week for them to get to him (maybe a week to report the threat, the article isn't clear).
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:39AM (#30806734)
    Advocates of the Crown Prosecution Service, FYI. All criminal cases in the UK are Regina V. Defendant. Transgressions of criminal law are tried by representatives of the Queen, as it is her Law which has been broken.
  • by chrb (1083577) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:41AM (#30806736)

    The IRA gave coded telephone warnings a few minutes in advance.
    This was NOT to allow civilians time to escape, or reduce the number of civilian casualties.

    No, since the IRA did bomb and kill civilians and were pretty unrepentant about it. Coded warnings can amplify the effect of an attack - or even make an actual attack unnecessary. Why bother with a real bomb when a simple telephone message can shut down 40 train stations and cause an estimated £34 million damage [independent.co.uk]? For every real bomb you can call in many times that number of coded threats, causing huge economic losses.

  • Re:I have a solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by AHuxley (892839) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:45AM (#30806774) Homepage Journal
    The UK showed what it could do during the Boer war, Alien Civilian Internment camps in WW1 ect., The Mau Mau Uprising, Malayan emergency, H-Blocks in the 91970-80's, Iraq, Afghanistan re board groups.
    The GCHQ/NSA can digitally "tag them all" via sloppy ip use :)
    Your life can then get difficult if you want paper work for a job outside the UK ect.
  • Re:Gah (Score:5, Informative)

    by GauteL (29207) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:11AM (#30807008)

    That's probably because we think it would have been a good thing for someone to blow up the houses of parliament and take down a corrupt government. At least that's what I thought until I was about 20. It never occurred to me that the government wasn't corrupt and that Fawkes wasn't a 'freedom fighter'. I suppose that just goes to show the quality of our historical education at school and the faith in the current government (the one I've grown up with) from a average lowly commoner.

    Whether Fawkes was a 'freedom fighter' or not depends on your point of view. Fawkes was a Catholic, and Catholics at this time were a persecuted and oppressed minority deprived of many rights others took for granted. Being a Catholic was in many cases enough to be guilty of treason and many were executed and many more were exiled and/or had their property taken away. While King James I was originally more moderate than previous monarchs, he became harsher in the years before the Gunpowder plot.

    The gunpowder plot aimed to kill the king and the government (the people actually responsible for the oppressive legislation). You could thus argue that they weren't 'innocent civilians'. Furthermore, it is hard to envision any non-violent and democratic way which British Catholics could have used at the time.

    So there may be nothing wrong with your historical education giving you the impression that Fawkes was a freedom fighter who aimed to take down a corrupt government.

    But as often happens when using violence to get your way, the opposite happened. The violent reactions by the conspirators led to even harsher treatment of Catholics in Britain.

    It seems to me that the whole ordeal was a sad mess with little to be proud of on either side.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:31AM (#30807132)

    The IRA gave coded telephone warnings a few minutes in advance.
    This was NOT to allow civilians time to escape, or reduce the number of civilian casualties.

    Nonsense.

    During the troubles, the PIRA were the only extremist group to have the capability to attack mainland Britain. Who was responsible for these sorts of high profile attacks wouldn't generally be in question. They did give telephone warnings in advance to reduce the number of civilian casualties. For example, in the Canary Wharf bombing, there were only 2 fatalities, but £85 million worth of property damage.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:35AM (#30807168) Journal
    Have you ever lived in the UK? When I was growing up, the IRA (you know, the terrorist organisation that was very active in the UK for much of the last century) phoned in bomb threats fairly regularly. Some were real bombs, some were not. It was effective, because the police had to evacuate and send in the bomb squad for every scare. Even if the bomb was diffused, and no one was killed, they still caused massive disruption, and they got slightly better PR by warning people first.
  • Re:Typical.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:07AM (#30807424)

    Because the UK is so unique in this....

    so-i-got-arrested-by-the-swat-team-last-night [jeremybell.com]

  • by pjt33 (739471) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:55AM (#30807914)

    Britain has been the subject of extended terror campaigns, and I suspect that the British police are more familiar with what a genuine terror threat sounds like than the average /. reader.

    IRA terror threats were made by phone directly to the police or army. The point is to be able to blame the authorities for being too slow to evacuate people if your bomb kills someone. Throwing out a message on Twitter doesn't fit the profile of previous bombers in the UK.

    Wil he just be taken on one side and told not to be such an asshole (er, sorry, "will it be explained to him that the police need to investigate such matters, because after all, how would it have been if the threat had been real and he had carried it out? It would be helpful if he kept that in mind in future"), or will things like the airport ban remain in place?

    I would guess that they will try to get him to accept a caution. That saves the hassle of a trial, but still looks positive on the statistics.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:39PM (#30809092)
    A twit is someone who tweets on Twitter.

    No, that's a twat.

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