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Man arrested for threatening to attack CNN headquarters over ‘fake news’

Brandon Griesemer, 19, made 22 calls to CNN’s publicly listed telephone number on January 9 and 10, and four calls that were recorded contained death threats.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2018 19:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.(AP File)

US authorities have arrested a man who allegedly made several calls to CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, threatening to shoot and kill employees over what he said was “fake news”, according to a federal affidavit.

The man, identified as 19-year-old Brandon Griesemer of Novi, Michigan, made 22 calls to CNN’s publicly listed telephone number on January 9 and 10, and four calls that were recorded contained death threats.

Griesemer was charged in a district court on Friday with transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure. He was released the same day on a $10,000 bond. If convicted, he could face a fine or up to five years in prison.

“Fake news! I’m coming to gun you all down,” the caller said in one of the calls on January 9, according to the affidavit filed in court.

“I am on my way right now to gun the f***ing CNN cast down...I am coming to kill you,” the man said in another call.

“You are going down. I have a gun and I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f***ing gun every single last one of you,” the man said in yet another call.

The caller made derogatory comments about Jewish people and referred to CNN employees with the n-word, according to the affidavit.

Federal investigators said in court that they had traced the calls to a mobile phone belonging to Griesemer.

This was not Griesemer’s first brush with law enforcement authorities, according to the affidavit. On September 19, Griesemer called an employee at an Islamic centre in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and made derogatory comments about the mosque and Muslims.

Police used an online database to identify Griesemer’s father as the phone’s owner. Two days later, police contacted Griesemer’s mother, who told officials her son had called the mosque. In a call to police the same day, Griesemer acknowledged that he called the mosque and “that he was angry at the time of the call”, the affidavit said.

In a statement, CNN said: “We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people.”

CNN contributor Ana Navarro connected the threats to anti-media comments by President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly attacked the media and described coverage of himself and his administration as “fake news”. CNN was among the winners at Trump’s so-called Fake News Awards.

Trump was criticised last year when he tweeted a video of him wrestling a man with a CNN logo on his face, as well as an image featuring the CNN logo covered in blood on the bottom of his shoe.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 19:12 IST