Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai
© Yuri Gripas / Reuters REUTERS
By Glenn Fleishman
June 29, 2018

A man who sent email threatening to kill the children of FCC chair Ajit Pai was arrested today, according to the Department of Justice. Markara Man had several charges proffered against him related to Pai’s status as a federal official. Death threats against an official or immediate family, and attempts to intimidate, interfere with, or retaliate against an official based on his or her official duties are all federal crimes.

Pai had said in the fall that signs were placed outside his home in Virginia, one of which read, “They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered Democracy in cold blood.” Pai also cancelled his appearance at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, citing security threats; he routinely attended in the past.

Man told agents he was “angry” about Pai’s efforts to repeal network neutrality rules, according to an affidavit filed by the FBI. Network neutrality requires Internet service providers to treat all network traffic, devices, and users without discrimination, and prohibit so-called “fast lanes” for some services over others. In the affidavit, Man is quoted as saying the FCC “had pretty much ignored, like, 80 percent of the comments” made about net neutrality rule changes.

Man allegedly sent three emails in December 2017. The first said that two children had killed themselves over the rule, and accused Pai of responsibility. The second listed the names and addresses of preschools near Arlington, Va., with the message, “I will find your children and I will kill them.” The third showed Pai with an out-of-focus picture behind him that depicted him and his family. (The affidavit noted that none of Pai’s children attended the three schools listed.)

When the FBI executed a warrant against Man on May 17, 2018, he was present, and the affidavit said Man admitted several key facts, including owning the email address “stubblemanliness@gmail.com” from which the threats were allegedly sent, an address Man had picked because he thought it sounded “tougher.”

The affidavit concludes with a mention that Man wrote and provided agents with an apology addressed to Pai, whose name was redacted in the report, and said, “I’m sorry I made a threat against your kids. That was crossing the line. I hope you’ll change your mind on [net neutrality] but I doubt it. Best Regards, Mark.”

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