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Twitter blocks Ilhan Omar's GOP rival after 'treason' post

Audrey Conklin

A Republican congressional candidate hoping to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of four progressive Democratic Congresswomen known as "the squad," is defending a tweet that got her Twitter account permanently suspended.

Twitter banned Danielle Stella's official account, @2020MNCongress, after the 31-year-old special education professional tweeted Tuesday, “If it is proven [Ilhan Omar] passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged."

A Twitter spokesperson told FOX Business that Stella's "account was permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter rules" but did not provide further detail. The incident showcases the challenges facing social media companies under pressure from Congress to curb hate speech on their platforms while simultaneously grappling with criticism that they have censored conservative viewpoints, a charge that executives have vehemently denied.

Stella's tweet followed a questionable report from The Jerusalem Post -- based on information from Saudi Arabia ally and Qatari enemy Alan Bender -- suggesting Omar could be a foreign agent passing secret U.S. information to Qatar and Iran. Omar has denied the report.

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Stella also posted a hangman symbol along with a link to a blog post calling her out for the former tweet to her Facebook page. Facebook has not suspended her account.

Stella defended her tweet in a Friday statement posted to Facebook, saying, "Treason is the only thing mentioned in the constitution for the death penalty, punishable by hanging or firing squad. I believe all involved should be thoroughly investigated. I did not threaten anyone."

She accused readers of distorting her comments.

"You are making it about race, about religion, about anything but the truth. While doing so, you are sending heinous comments, actual death threats, threats of bodily harm, threats to my friends, supporters, threats to post private photos, insulting/attacking my religion, intelligence, race, gender, mental health, physical health, appearance, labeling me with many disorders and diagnoses, and using very non-PC language to do so," she continued.

Omar responded to Stella's posts in a Friday tweet.

"This is the natural result of a political environment where anti-Muslim dog whistles and dehumanization are normalized by an entire political party and its media outlets," she wrote. "Violent rhetoric inevitably leads to violent threats, and ultimately, violent acts."

Neither Omar nor Stella responded to FOX Business' request for comment.

Twitter, reacting to growing concern about misinformation spread on social media, has banned all political advertising from its service. Its move sets it apart from Facebook, which continues to defend running paid political ads, even false ones, as a free speech priority.

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