According to sheriff’s officials in Polk County, Wilson is being charged with 300 misdemeanor counts and one felony count of wholesale distribution of obscene material, all of which reportedly relate to the pornographic material on Wilson’s site, not the controversial war images that have garnered so much attention in recent weeks.
Wilson’s site received global attention after allegations arose that U.S. soldiers were using it to trade photographs of dead Afghan and Iraqi civilians for free memberships to the site and access to pornographic content.
“Obscenity only applies to sex, not violence,” First Amendment attorney Lawrence Walters, who is representing Wilson, told XBiz. “You can chop people up but you can’t love them.”
Just last week, the army ruled that its soldiers could not be held accountable for the images, many of which showed burned or otherwise mutilated bodies posed next to people dressed in what looked like army uniforms. Islamic groups, who said the photographs dehumanized the Islamic world, blasted the Army’s decision.
Walters said he doesn’t yet know what specific images Wilson is being charged for.
“They’ve apparently got some kind of images they pulled from the site, but they haven’t shared those with us yet. My guess is they’ve selected whatever they can find that they think violates community standards in the county,” Walters said.
Walters said the most important aspect of the case right now is that his client did not post any of the pictures on his site. The attorney compared Wilson’s arrest with the government arresting the telephone company over what people might say over the phone.
“Is Sprint held responsible for what people say over the phone lines?” he asked.
Whether or not there is any political motivation for the arrest is a central concern, according to Walters, who worries that the Army images signaled his client out for political reasons.
“We want to know where this complaint is coming from and why Wilson was chosen among the thousands of webmasters out there,” Walters said. “Given the fact that he had pictures of war dead on his site we have significant concerns that there is some political motivation here.”
Currently Wilson is being charged with the 300 separate accounts individually, which Walters said requires 300 separate bonds and makes it logistically very difficult to get him out of jail.