FBI: Man Sent Tweet that Caused Seizure in Victim

SALISBURY, Md. — A Maryland man is accused of tweeting an animated strobe image that caused a Newsweek magazine writer to have a seizure, FBI officials said Friday.

John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury was charged with cyberstalking a Dallas resident known to have epilepsy, tweeting the victim a strobe message embedded with a statement, "You deserve a seizure for your post," referring to a Twitter post by the victim, according to an FBI news release.

"Upon viewing the flashing strobe image, the victim immediately suffered a seizure," according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement issued late Friday.

Baltimore FBI Field Office spokesman David Fitz would not identify the victim or indicate where in Salisbury the suspect lived.

Newsweek on Friday identified the victim as senior writer Kurt Eichenwald.

"After a 3-month investigation, the FBI this morning arrested the man who assaulted me using a strobe on Twitter that triggered a seizure," Eichenwald tweeted Friday.

The image was apparently sent in response to Eichenwald’s outspoken criticism of then-President-elect Trump, according to the Associated Press.

Rivello was taken into custody in Salisbury on Friday, FBI officials said.

According to an affidavit excerpt in an FBI news release, evidence received pursuant to a search warrant showed Rivello’s Twitter account contained direct messages to other Twitter users concerning the victim.

Those direct messages by Rivello included, “I hope this sends him into a seizure,” according to the news release. “Spammed this at (victim) let’s see if he dies,” and “I know he has epilepsy.”

Additional evidence 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, the news release states.

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.

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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