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Twitter Threat to New York Theater Resolved Without Arrest

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Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- A probe into threats to kill patrons of a Broadway theater posted on the Twitter social-networking service was resolved without an arrest, New York City police said.

The NYPD on Aug. 3 discovered the messages threatening audience members at the Longacre Theater on West 48th Street in Manhattan, where “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” a one-man show featuring the boxer and directed by Spike Lee, is currently running.

Police interviewed the holder of the account, who is in West Virginia, and the threat was “resolved without arrest,” Paul Browne, a spokesman for the department, said today in an e-mail. The holder of the account is the person who made the threats, said Browne, who didn’t respond to inquiries about why police decided not to make an arrest.

The threats were posted under the Twitter name @obamasmistress, the New York Post reported, citing unidentified law enforcement sources. Browne declined to comment on that report.

Police initially asked the social-networking service to identify the holder of the account and Twitter refused, saying the case didn’t fall under its disclosure policy, according to the NYPD. The department then asked Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office to request a subpoena compelling Twitter to release the information. A judge signed the order and the company complied.

Twitter last month appealed a New York state judge’s order to give prosecutors information about an Occupy Wall Street protester’s posts. The company has said the case will determine when and whether it must respond to subpoenas for its users.

National Implications

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a May 31 court filing that the litigation has national implications as law enforcement becomes more aggressive in seeking information about what people do and say on the Internet.

Twitter, based in San Francisco, has declined to comment on the theater threats. Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for the company, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail after regular business hours seeking comment on the police department’s resolution of the case.

One of the messages threatened that people at the theater were going to “die like Aurora” -- a reference to last month’s mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater where 12 people died and at least 58 were injured. The NYPD posted extra officer at the Longacre in response.

The Twitter account wasn’t accessible late today.

Twitter provides real-time messaging and allows users to make posts that are broadcast to people who sign up to follow them. Tyson’s show began July 31 and is scheduled to run through Aug. 12.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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