A Maryland man was arrested by the FBI and charged with cyberstalking Friday after sending a tweet to a Texas journalist intended to induce a seizure.
John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Md. was arrested after the FBI determined he sent a flashing image along with the message “You deserve a seizure for your post” to Newsweek senior writer and Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald on Twitter on Dec 15.
Eichenwald, who had previously written and spoken openly about his epilepsy diagnosis, sought to identify the person who sent the tweet after it triggered a seizure.
“After a three month investigation, the FBI this morning arrested the man who assaulted me using a strobe on Twitter that triggered a seizure,” Eichenwald wrote on Twitter. “He currently faces federal charges and is expected to also be indicted by the Dallas District Attorney on different charges in next few days.”
Eichenwald said the FBI is also investigating dozens of other individuals who also began sending him images of strobe lights after the incident.
“More than 40 [people] sent strobes once they found out they could trigger seizures. Details of their cases are with the FBI,” Eichenwald wrote. “Stop sending them.”
According to an affidavit, Rivello’s Twitter account contained private messages to others with statements that included “I hope this sends him into a seizure” and “I know he has epilepsy.”
Investigators also found screenshots in Rivello’s iCloud including an altered version of Eichenwald’s Wikipedia page stating he died on Dec. 16, pages from epilepsy.com with a list of commonly reported epilepsy seizure triggers and an article from dallasobserver.com discussing Eichenwald’s report to the Dallas Police Department and his attempt to identify the Twitter user.