March 5, 2014
A French convert to Islam was convicted of using the Internet to disseminate terrorist propaganda and promote participation in terrorist acts and was sentenced by a Paris court to one year in prison and two more on probation late Tuesday. The case is the first using a law passed in 2012 that makes “cyber jihad” a crime and potentially has serious consequences for freedom of expression in France. The law was passed in response to the attacks in Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people including three children and apparently was inspired in part by extremist Internet postings. The maximum sentence in Tuesday’s case could have been five years in prison, and the relatively light term given to Romain Letellier, 27, suggested that both prosecutors and judges were still considering how to apply the new law. The prosecutor said that the trial was happening in a context where young people become radicalized rapidly after reading material on the Internet.