(Ken Silva, Headline USA) After four days of deliberating, a jury has found Douglas Mackey guilty of election interference for posting a meme in 2016 about voting for then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton via text message—a verdict that many observers say is a major blow to free speech rights in America.
Mackey had been operating the popular “Ricky Vaughn” Twitter account that had some 58,000 followers.
He has maintained that the memes were clearly satire, while the U.S. government claims his actions were designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.
Following Friday’s verdict, Mackey’s lawyer, Andrew Frisch, released the following statement: “This case presents an unusual array of compelling appellate issues. I am optimistic that the conviction will be vacated.”
One of the government’s testifying witnesses was an FBI informant who still actively operates anonymous right-wing Twitter accounts. According to prosecutors, the informant operates accounts similar to the Ricky Vaughn account. They claimed that the two worked in tandem to spread “misinformation.”
The informant plead guilty to the same charge that Mackey has been found guilty of. His identity has been protected because he is allegedly still working with the FBI in respect to other Twitter users.
“The [informant] is presently involved in multiple, ongoing investigations and other activities in which he or she is using assumed internet names and ‘handles’ that do not reveal his or her true identity,” prosecutors said.
Mackey’s lawyer, Frisch, claimed that the revealing of the informant’s identity is an essential part of the legal process to which nobody should be considered exempt.
“While the defendant and [the informant] never met, they were both political conservatives, and the [informant] is now at odds against him. If the [informant’s] political views have changed significantly, it is relevant to understand his community and biases,” Frisch wrote.
“If his political views have changed, the defense may wish to probe as to whether he has a political bias against the defendant,” Frisch continued. “If his views have not changed, it is relevant to probe his motivations.”
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.