Bomb instructions land US webmaster in prison

Out-Law News | 06 Aug 2003 | 12:00 am | 1 min. read

A man whose web site included a 'protest guide' that contained instructions on how to make bombs was arrested under powers in the US Patriot Act and sentenced on Monday to a year in prison for "distribution of information related to explosives with intent."

Sherman Austin was arrested in February last year as he took part in protests outside the World Economic Forum in New York due to the material on his activist web site, Raisethefist.com. He denies being the author of the guide on his site. On his web site, he makes the following statement:

"Distribution of information related to explosives is not illegal.. What's illegal is the INTENT part. They have to prove you have intent to use the information to cause further crime of violence .. and how do they prove intent? I think Bush made it clear when he said 'you're either with me or against me'."

Austin was warned that he could face over 20 years in prison if a terrorism charge were added to his case, so he arranged a plea bargain with the local prosecutor. This, according to anarchist, activist and alternative news publisher Infoshop.org, amounted to four months in jail, four months in a 'half-way house' and then three years' probation.

But Judge Stephen Wilson increased the sentence beyond the deal he agreed with prosecutors, to one year in prison. This is to be followed by three years' probation, during which time Austin cannot use a computer without the prior agreement of his probation officer, and his computer will be monitored.

Austin has also to pay a $2,000 fine and, according to SiliconValley.com, must not become involved with anyone from a group that "espouses physical force as a means of change."