Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am a law student. In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice. It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.
There have been too many situations where someone has been killed because of what they posted online. That is not what I’m talking about today. I wanted to find out if simply posting a blog could legally get you killed. (The mafia doesn’t count.)
In the United States, you have to be guilty of homicide, a crime committed related to homicide, rape, criminal assault, or something equally heinous to be put to death. It’s pretty hard, if not impossible, to commit one of these crimes via the words on a blog. If my words were so shocking that a reader had a heart attack and died, could I be arrested for homicide? I doubt it. There are other countries, however, that are more likely to kill you because of your point of view or beliefs.
I did some digging into other countries’ laws and found a handful of capital crimes that could possibly be committed via a blog:
- China: Corruption, Endangering national security
- Iran: Homosexuality, Crimes against chastity
- Libya: Attempting to forcibly change the form of government
- North Korea: Plots against national sovereignty (includes attempting to leave the country)
- Saudi Arabia: Witchcraft, Sexual misconduct
- Sudan: Waging war against the state, Acts that may endanger the independence or unity of the state
- Syria: Verbal opposition to the government, Membership of the Muslim Brotherhood
- Vietnam: Undermining peace
- Yemen: Homosexuality, Adultery
When it comes to crimes committed via blogs, the first question that came up for me was jurisdiction. Since a blog can be accessed anywhere that there’s an internet connection, a prosecutor would have the burden of proving that it has jurisdiction to bring the charges in that country.
Let’s consider my blog. I’m a citizen of the United States and this blog is hosted by a company based in the United States. If I travel to Iran and post a blog from my hotel room that says that I had sex with a girl, but it doesn’t say when or in which country the sex occurred, would Iran have jurisdiction to charge me with a capital crime and kill me?
If a Syrian citizen was studying in the United States on a student visa, had a blog that was hosted in the United States, and posted a blog from the United States where he declared his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, would Syria have jurisdiction to charge him with a capital crime or would he have to return to Syria first?