Disturbing new details have emerged in the case of a Maryland man accused of sending a seizure-inducing GIF to Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald, including private Twitter messages where the suspect allegedly wrote, “I hope this sends him into a seizure,” and, “let’s see if he dies”.
According to the Department of Justice, 29-year-old John Rayne Rivello of Salisbury, Maryland, was arrested for cyberstalking on Friday. Prosecutors say Rivello’s Twitter account sent Eichenwald an “animated strobe image” attached to the message, “You deserve a seizure for your post.” Rivello’s account allegedly sent private messages saying, “Spammed this at [Eichenwald] let’s see if he dies,” and, “I know he has epilepsy.” From the Justice Department:
Additional evidence received pursuant to a search warrant showed Rivello’s iCloud account contained a screenshot of a Wikipedia page for the victim, which had been altered to show a fake obituary with the date of death listed as Dec. 16, 2016. Rivello’s iCloud account also contained screen shots from epilepsy.com with a list of commonly reported epilepsy seizure triggers and from dallasobserver.com discussing the victim’s report to the Dallas Police Department and his attempt to identify the Twitter user.
Previously, Eichenwald and his lawyers moved to order Twitter in court to reveal the identity of the user who allegedly sent the image. Later, Eichenwald retracted the order, claiming the man had been identified through other, unexplained means.
Eichenwald announced the man’s arrest on Twitter Friday morning:
He currently faces federal charges & is expected to also be indicted by the Dallas District Attorney on different charges in next few days.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) March 17, 2017
While Eichenwald was able to get the FBI to swoop in on this case, online threats against women continue to go unanswered.