Fake-news writer accused of making bomb threats
A MAN arrested on suspicion of being behind eight of the bomb threats made against Jewish American institutions in the past two months is a former journalist who was fired for fabricating sources and quotes.
Juan Thompson, of Missouri, appeared in court on Friday in St Louis. He has been charged with cyberstalking by New York State.
2014 and January 2016, Mr Thompson worked for the Intercept, a news website co-edited by controversial journalist Glenn Greenwald that has reported extensively on documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
According to prosecutors, in some cases Mr Thompson emailed threats to Jewish institutions using the name of a woman he described as his ex-girlfriend. In others, he used his own name and then claimed she had hacked his email account.
He then tweeted: “Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.”
While he allegedly made the hoax bomb calls, the 31-year-old tweeted a series of messages supportive of the Jewish community.
On February 26, in response to the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, he tweeted: “And ppl says [sic] Jews don’t face bigotry and violence. How would you feel if nasty white ppl destroyed MLK’s gravesite? #philadelphia”
At one point, Mr Thompson tweeted: “Another week, another round of threats against Jewish ppl. In the middle of the day, you know who’s at a JCC? Kids. KIDS.”
The Intercept said in a statement it was “horrified” to hear of Mr Thompson’s arrest, and that the alleged actions were “heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted”.
The statement went on to say Mr Thompson “was fired after we discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles.”
Federal authorities have made it clear that they did not think Mr Thompson was behind more than a handful of the bomb threats.
Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director at the Anti-Defamation League, whose offices were hit by threats on Tuesday, said Jewish “communities are hurting.
“There are many more JCC bomb threats that have not been solved. We hope all law enforcement will continue to be diligent,” he said.
A sixth wave of bomb threats hit Jewish institutions and schools on Monday and Tuesday.