British Pol in Hot Water for 'Stoning' Tweet

Blind justice statue atop Old Bailey Central Criminal Courts, London, Britain, video still AP

Two cases in Britain are testing the limits of freedom of speech on the Internet.

A city councilor in England has been arrested after allegedly posting a message on Twitter calling for a journalist to be stoned to death, and a court has upheld the conviction of a man who tweeted about blowing up his local airport.

Police said that Birmingham city councilor Gareth Compton was arrested on suspicion of sending an offensive or indecent message. He has not been charged and was released on bail pending further inquiries.

Media reports say the post on the microblogging site said, "Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really."

The post appears to have been removed. On Thursday, Compson tweeted an apology for his "ill-conceived attempt at humor."

Alibhai-Brown is a liberal columnist for The Independent newspaper.

The governing Conservative Party said Compton had been suspended indefinitely.

Also Thursday, a court rejected an appeal by Paul Chambers, who was convicted of sending a threatening message after saying on Twitter that he would blow up an airport if his flight was delayed.

Chambers, 26, was arrested in January after he posted the message saying he would blow Robin Hood Airport in northern England "sky high" if his flight, due to leave a week later, was delayed.

Chambers insisted his post was a joke, sent to his 600 Twitter followers in a moment of frustration. But a judge found him guilty of sending an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing message over a public telecommunications network.

On Thursday, Judge Jacqueline Davies at Doncaster Crown Court upheld the conviction, saying Chambers' message was "obviously menacing."

He was ordered to pay 2,000 pounds ($3,225) in prosecution costs, in addition to a 385 pound ($620) fine.

Thursday's verdict caused a wave of outrage on Twitter from supporters of Chambers, including writer and actor Stephen Fry, who tweeted "whatever they fine you, I'll pay."
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