20:00 GMT +323 January 2020
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    Former Officer Gilberto Valle was convicted in March 2013 of conspiring to kidnap, kill and consume women after illegally accessing a police database to collect information on them.

    On Thursday, the charges were thrown out in a US appeals court’s 2-1 ruling.

    "This is a case about the line between fantasy and criminal intent," Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote for the majority. "Fantasizing about committing a crime, even a crime of violence against a real person whom you know, is not a crime."

    ​The charge of illegally accessing a database was thrown out on the grounds that federal law does not consider it a crime for someone to use a computer system that they normally have access to, even if it is for improper use.

    "It was, and remains, for the jury to determine the factual question of whether Valle had criminal intent," Circuit Judge Chester Straub, the only judge to dissent, wrote. "The jury considered and rejected Valle’s defense that he was simply pretending to commit a crime."

    Valle did not have any alleged victims, but would use dark corners of the Internet to discuss his fantasies of abducting, torturing, cooking and eating women. The trial raised many questions as to when discussion of fantasies becomes intent.

    Many Internet privacy groups rallied for Valle, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), citing that his conviction violates his constitutional right to free speech.


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