Federal Bureau of Investigation captures man accused of sending a seizure-inducing tweet

FBI arrests man accused of triggering Newsweek reporter's epilepsy

The FBI has arrested a Twitter user who allegedly gave Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald a seizure by sending him a blinking animated GIF, Gizmodo reported Friday.

The FBI and police in Maryland and Dallas, where Eichenwald resides, investigated the case and arrested John Rayne Rivello, 29, on Friday.

The complaint was filed in December by Kurt Eichenwald, a Newsweek reporter who received the tweet on December 15.

On Friday, Eichenwald tweeted that more than 40 people tweeted strobing images at him after they learned they could induce seizures.

Eichenwald has been public about having epilepsy. The Justice Department said that after viewing the strobe image, the victim "immediately suffered a seizure".

They also found an iCloud account which contained a screenshot of a Eichenwald's Wikipedia page, which had been doctored to show a fake obituary with the date of death listed as December 16, 2016.

In a later reply via his Twitter feed, a message evidently written by the reporter's wife appeared, stating: "This is his wife, you caused a seizure".

Called photic or pattern-sensitive seizures, these occur when people with epilepsy see a series of images or video that fall into a certain range of color, pattern and frequency. In December a year ago, Eichenwald received the animated image on Twitter along with the message, "You deserve a seizure for your posts". "Stop sending them", he pleaded. The flashing tweet gave the journalist a seizure. Eichenwald dropped the case because he said he had figured out, without the court's help, who had sent him the tweet.

"This electronic message was no different than a bomb sent in the mail or anthrax sent in an envelope", said Eichenwald's lawyer Steven Lieberman, told the Times. "It triggers a physical effect". Additional information will be released later Friday, she said.

While Eichenwald was able to get the Federal Bureau of Investigation to swoop in on this case, online threats against women continue to go unanswered.

Eichenwald's case is different from other online stalking or bullying lawsuits because the tweet Eichenwald received wasn't just sent to harm him emotionally, it was created to target his medical condition, The New York Times pointed out in a report.

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