Imagine being falsely accused of terrorism for nothing more than the books you have read. Well that’s exactly what has happened to a Florida man named Marcus Dwayne Robertson.
The U.S. government composed “snippets of information from various sources, out of context, to weave together a narrative of terrorist ideation,” according to a Florida judge.
That judge just ordered the release of Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” an Orlando, Florida resident and Islamic scholar. Abu Taubah was accused of “supporting terrorism,” but the “evidence” against him amounted to nothing more than the books on his bookshelf.
Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” was incarcerated from 2011. The charges he faced, however, were tax fraud and illegal gun possession. Not exactly “terrorism.”
But following his arrest and conviction stemming from these charges, prosecutors added what they termed “terrorism enhancement” to the sentence.
There seems to be no rationale for this other than ABu Taubah’s religious orientation… that and his book collection.
This sentencing guideline modification would have locked Robertson up for 20 years.
But the judge’s recent rejection of this bizarre, Orwellian sentencing “enhancement”, led to the Islamic scholar being released immediately.
Robertson’s sentence was argued as justifiable by prosecutors who said the contents of his Islamic book collection were sufficient “evidence” that he was connected to terrorism.
Approximately two dozen eBooks that Robertson downloaded were presented as “evidence” of his “terrorist connections.”
Prosecutors highlighted passage after controversial passage, as though this could serve as legitimate evidence that someone is a terrorist. They didn’t seem to understand that the contents of a book someone owns cannot be used as evidence against them.
A memorandum obtained by First Look was issued along with Judge Gregory A. Presnell decision. That memorandum strongly rejected the government’s argument that eBook passages could be used as “evidence” of “terrorism.”
“[T]here was no evidence produced that Robertson ever accessed these particular documents, much less that he took their extremism to heart,” Presnell argued.
He made it clear that even if the Islamic scholar admitted to having read the eBooks in question, this would not and could not be used as evidence of terrorism.