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Woman convicted for terror-supporting tweets

A Spanish woman, with no known political or terroristic ties, gets a one-year sentence for calling for the assassination of Spain's prime minister, among other tweets.

Insignia from the terror group Grapo.
Haitzaga/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I deliberately follow people whose views (and even faces) I don't like on Twitter.

Their tweets can sometimes be hostile, racist, homophobic, and wishing for the death of others.

To me, they're a healthy reminder that thoughts that like that exist.

However, authorities aren't always the best judges of which tweets are merely the invective of the frustrated and powerless, and which are a genuine threat.

In a case that might give some pause before tweeting on the blurt, 21-year-old Alba Gonzalez Camacho has been convicted by a Spanish court of inciting terrorism via social media.

As the New York Times reports, Gonzalez Camacho doesn't claim any political affiliation.

The court, though, decided that her invocation of a now muted left-wing terrorist organization called Grapo was enough to suggest that her tweets constituted a threat.

Her tweets expressed anger with the current Spanish political hierarchy, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. For example: "I promise to tattoo myself with the face of the person who shoots Rajoy in the neck."

She was given one year in jail but will avoid actual jail time after agreeing to a plea bargain.

Previously, she had no criminal record and described herself to the Times as "a normal girl."

She added that she against "a system in which a minority lives on the back of the death, misery, and exploitation of a majority."

Some might say this would describe far more of the world than just Spain.

Those who spend a lot of time on Twitter might have some sympathy with her. In her words: "I never imagined something like that could happen to me because you find a lot of nonsense on the Internet, including worse than mine."

Courts around the world seem to deal with Twitter invective in a highly subjective manner.

In January, an Ohio man was sentenced to 16 months in jail for tweeting threats to kill President Obama.

However, in a celebrated UK case, Paul Chambers, who issued tweeted threats to blow up his local airport as an obviously frustrated joke, was also convicted of issuing terroristic threats. Though the verdict was ultimately overturned, it wasn't before Chambers had lost his job.

In Spain, some have found irony in the fact that Gonzalez Camacho's one-year sentence is greater than that given to Pio Moa, a former Grapo member who kidnapped a local politician.

Currently on Twitter, she is receiving much sympathy (and even a marriage proposal from a man in a hood), with some suggesting she merely vocalized thoughts that are held by more than a few.

She is training to be social worker.