(CNSNews.com) – An unnamed 18-year-old from Dijon, France received a three-month suspended jail sentence for “praising terrorism” after naming his Wi-Fi network “Daesh 21”, French media announced on Friday.
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), while the number 21 is believed to have been a reference to the department [district] number of Côte d’Or, the French province in the Bourgogne region where Dijon is located.
The man was convicted under a French federal anti-terrorism law (Article 421-2-5), passed in November 2014 that makes it crime to “directly provoke acts of terrorism or to publicly praise one such act."
Those convicted under the law can face up to 5 years in prison and a €75,000 (US $83,000) fine. If the accused uses an “online communication service”, the penalty can increase to up to 7 years in prison and a €100,000 (US$111,000) fine.
A local French newspaper reported that the accused man appeared to be “totally dazed” when he appeared in court and insisted that he was “not a terrorist.” He received the suspended sentence after refusing his first sentence of 100 hours of community service.
He also renamed the Wi-Fi Roudoudou 21.
Defense attorney Karima Manhouli stated that her client was reported to police by the one of his neighbors.
"He's an 18-year-old who has not even been able to explain the name,” said Manhouli. “I don't think that renaming a Wi-Fi network is an act of praise! It's neutral, it's nonsense, it's not an argument."
Manhouli also argued that the man’s computer, phone, and social media accounts, which were seized by French authorities, contained no evidence linking him to terrorism.
ISIS has reportedly threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone using what they consider to be a derogatory term.
Some are also questioning whether the law is compatible with the French Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
"The question is whether it is in accordance with French law," said Marie Fernet, a French lawyer who weighed in on the prosecution. "And if this law is itself consistent with the fundamental principles protected by the Constitution, the Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
“This legislation regarding the praise of terrorism is recent, and many people think it is not consistent with our texts on human rights and freedom of expression," Fernet added.