Veracruz – Two Mexicans who used the Internet to circulate what turned out to be false reports about attacks on schools were released from custody after prosecutors in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz dropped terrorism and sabotage charges filed against the pair last month.
"I didn't win, freedom of expression won!," Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola said as she walked out of prison with Gilberto Martinez Vera amid applause from their waiting friends and families.
The state Attorney General's Office announced Wednesday that prosecutors were dropping the terrorism and sabotage charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
The duo is now likely to be charged with the newly created offense of "disturbing public order," Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte de Ochoa said.
Veracruz lawmakers voted Tuesday to add the public-order offense to the state penal code.
The legislation was specifically crafted to deal with the case of Bravo, a former official of the state education department, and Martinez, a math teacher.
The law mandates up to four years in prison for the dissemination through "any medium" of false reports about bombings, shootings or attacks involving toxic substances in cases where the inaccurate information is deemed to have spurred a disturbance.
The stories sent hundreds of panicked parents rushing to schools mentioned to rescue their children, even as the students inside cowered in expectation of violence that never came.
Amnesty International and Article 19, a London-based group for defense of freedom of expression, condemned the original arrest and prosecution of Martinez and Bravo.