Indian police have arrested a man on charges of cyber terrorism and crimes against the state for allegedly posting pro-"Islamic State" messages on Twitter. The account had 2 million monthly views and 17,000 followers.
Bangalore City Police named the man as 24-year-old engineer Mehdi Masroor Biswas. He was arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning at his rented apartment.
Police said he had admitted running the pro-"Islamic State" (IS) Twitter account 'ShamiWitness' but that he appeared to have no direct links to the militant group. "Mehdi Biswas has confessed to the fact that he was operating Shami Witness Twitter account for the last many years," Bangalore police officer LR Pachuau told a press conference on Saturday.
"He used to ferociously tweet by aggregating information and closely watching developments of this region," Pachuau said.
The Twitter account was shut down after UK television Channel 4 News aired an investigation and telephone interview on Thursday with the person running the account, named by police as Mehdi Masroor Biswas.
Mehdi claimed to have done nothing wrong: "I haven't raised any war or any violence against the public of India," he said. "No I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't harmed anybody, I haven't broken any laws of the country."
Police in Bangalore said they had opened a case against Mehdi under provisions of the penal code for "waging war against a friendly nation" and violating the Information Technology Act.
According to Channel 4, Mehdi spoke to British jihadists regularly, before they left to join IS and after they arrived. If they died, he praised them as martyrs. The TV report described the Twitter account as a "leading conduit of information between jihadists, supporters and recruits."
During the television report, Mehdi was heard to say that he would have joined IS himself if his family did not depend on him. "If I had a chance to leave everything and join them I might have... my family needs me here," he said.
Mehdi's father told a media outlet in India that his son was innocent and had been framed: "My son is not linked to any jihadi group," he said.
IS has used social media to recruit foreign fighters and to show videos of their fighters beheading Western journalists and aid workers.
jm/es (AFP, dpa)