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Social Worker Raided for Rioting on Twitter Wants His Pickaxes Back

This seems almost too weird to be true, but Wired reports that on Oct. 1, federal agents seized the computers, manuscripts and pickaxes of an anarchist social worker in Queens, N.Y., claiming he violating anti-rioting laws on Twitter.

Elliot Madison, who counsels seriously mentally ill patients, first came under suspicion when, at the G-20 gathering of world leaders in Pittsburgh in September, he was arrested for allegedly listening to a police scanner and then sending out the information on Twitter to help protesters avoid the heavily armed police. Wired notes that the State Department applauded the same activity when protesters did it in Iran.

But in Madison’s case, the following week the Joint Terrorism Task Force got a warrant and raided the 41-year-old social worker’s home, where he lives with his wife and some roommates. The feds seized his computers, books, camera memory cards, air-filtration masks, bumper stickers and political posters. These were all supposedly evidence of his breaking the federal anti-rioting law. If found guilty, he could spend up to five years in prison.

Among his possessions taken were an electronic manuscript of a book he was working on. His first book, written with the “Curious George Brigade,” is called “Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs.”

Madison and his lawyer are now claiming that the search and seizure were unconstitutional.

Wired reporter Ryan Singel is decidedly sympathetic, suggesting that Madison is “yet another casualty of the government’s nasty, post-9/11 habit of considering political dissidents as threats to national security.”

The House Judiciary Committee is actually holding a hearing on a related subject this afternoon — the case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, in which one of the thousands of Muslims rounded up, treated harshly and detained in the United States just after 9/11 sued the government for wrongful imprisonment and violation of his constitutional rights. In May, the Supreme Court dismissed Iqbal’s claims.

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