CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago college student was convicted Monday of assisting the terrorist group ISIS by writing computer code to help the group more effectively distribute propaganda on social media channels.
Thomas Osadzinski, who was a computer science student at DePaul University, was convicted on one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison.READ MORE: Serial Stowaway Marilyn Hartman Found Fit To Stand Trial
Prosecutors say Osadzinski designed a process that uses a computer script to make ISIS propaganda more conveniently accessed and disseminated by users on a social media platform.READ MORE: Closing Arguments Begin In Jussie Smollett's Trial For Allegedly Staging Phony Hate Crime; 'We Have Proven This By Overwhelming Evidence'
Osadzinski shared his script – and instructions for how to use it – with individuals whom he believed to be ISIS supporters and members of pro-ISIS media organizations, prosecutors said. The individuals were actually FBI employees and a person confidentially working with law enforcement.
ISIS uses social media to recruit fighters and inspire violence against the United States and other countries, according to federal prosecutors.MORE NEWS: 71-Year-Old Man Shot Multiple Times, Killed While Heading To Store To Buy Newspaper In Chinatown
Defense attorneys said their client’s online activities amount to free speech.