A disgraced journalist has been arrested and charged in connection with eight of the more than one hundred bomb threats made to Jewish community centres (JCCs) and institutions across America. Juan Thompson, 31, from St Louis, Missouri, has been charged with one count of cyberstalking a woman by “communicating threats to JCCs in the woman’s name,” a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
A pre-trial detention hearing, and a hearing as to whether Thompson will be transferred to New York for further proceedings, will be held at St Louis district court on Wednesday, March 8. Federal authorities alleged that Thompson had made the threats as part of an internet campaign against a former girlfriend. It is claimed that he also sent “defamatory e-mails and faxes” to the woman’s employer together with “false reports of criminal activity” by the woman. He is also alleged to have claimed falsely that the woman was guilty of abusing children.
U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said: “Everyone deserves to be free from fear and discrimination based on religion, race, or ethnicity. That is fundamental to who we are as a nation. “Together with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD), we have been investigating the recent threats made on Jewish Community Centers in New York and around the country. Today, we have charged Juan Thompson with allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to Jewish Community Centers and to the Anti-Defamation League. “Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race – whatever the motivation – are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal. We are committed to pursuing and prosecuting those who foment fear and hate through such criminal threats.”
FBI assistant director-in-charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Thompson’s alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community. The FBI and our partners take these crimes seriously.” A year ago, Thompson was fired from his job at The Intercept, a web news site covering politics and security, after it was discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in articles he had written. Investigations are continuing to try to track down those responsible for all the other bomb threats made in the first two months of this year