A British man who said on Twitter that he would blow up an airport if his flight was delayed by snow was convicted Monday of sending a threatening message and made to pay 1,000 pounds ($1,500).
Paul Chambers, 26, insisted his post on the micro-blogging site was a joke. But a judge at Doncaster Magistrates' Court in northern England found him guilty of sending an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing message over a public telecommunications network.
District Judge Jonathan Bennett said the message "was of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live." He ordered Chambers to pay the fine and court costs.
Chambers was arrested in January after he posted the message saying he would blow up Robin Hood Airport near the large town of Doncaster "sky high" if his flight, due to leave in a week's time, was delayed.
Chambers, from Doncaster, said he made the post when the airport was closed by snow and he feared his travel plans would be disrupted.
"It did not cross my mind that Robin Hood would ever look at Twitter or take it seriously because it was innocuous hyperbole," he said.
An airport employee came across the tweet a few days later, but security staff there decided it was not a credible bomb threat. Nevertheless, they passed the message on to police. Chambers was arrested two days before his flight was due to leave.
Chambers, who lost his job at a car distribution firm after his arrest, said he was considering an appeal.
News of the conviction sent a ripple of outrage across the Twittersphere, with some users retransmitting the message: "This absurd judgement is enough to make me want to blow up Robin Hood airport"
© 2010 The Associated Press.