Sarkozy: Jail those who browse terror websites

Friday, March 23, 2012
By Paul Martin

By RAPHAEL SATTER
The Associated Press
March 22, 2012

France’s president proposed a sweeping new law Thursday that would jail those who visit extremist web sites — one of several tough new measures floated in the wake of a murderous shooting spree.

The proposed rules, unveiled by Nicolas Sarkozy after the death of an Islamist fanatic wanted for a horrifying series of execution-style murders, have alarmed journalists and legal experts, who say they risk pulling the plug on free expression.

Sarkozy argued that it was time to treat those who browse extremist websites the same way as those who consume child pornography.

“Anyone who regularly consults Internet sites which promote terror or hatred or violence will be sentenced to prison,” he told a campaign rally in Strasbourg, in eastern France. “What is possible for pedophiles should be possible for trainee terrorists and their supporters, too.”

How the proposed rules would work isn’t clear. When asked, Sarkozy’s office directed the query for details to the Ministry of Justice, which didn’t immediately offer clarification.

Journalists and lawyers are concerned.

“Trying to criminalize a visit — a simple visit — to a website, that’s something that seems disproportionate,” said Lucie Morillon, who runs the new media bureau of journalists’ watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

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