x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

US man charged over sending letters laced with ricin to Obama

A man accused of mailing letters laced with the deadly poison ricin to US President Barack Obama and other officials claims that he uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and that 'various parties within the government' were trying to ruin his reputation.

OXFORD, US // A man accused of mailing letters laced with the deadly poison ricin to US President Barack Obama and other officials, has claimed that he uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and that "various parties within the government" were trying to ruin his reputation.

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, is charged with threatening Mr Obama and others, the department of justice said yesterday. He appeared in federal court on the two charges and, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison.

Mr Curtis was surprised by his arrest and maintains he is innocent, his lawyer said after the hearing.

"He maintains 100 per cent that he did not do this," Christi R McCoy said.

Ms McCoy said she had not yet decided whether to seek a hearing to determine if Mr Curtis was mentally competent to stand trial.

An FBI affidavit released yesterday said Mr Curtis sent three letters with suspected ricin to Mr Obama, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a Mississippi judge. The letters read:

"No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still 'Missing Pieces'. Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. I am KC and I approve this message."

The FBI said there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the Boston Marathon bombings. The letters to Mr Obama and Mr Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon.

The affidavit claimed Mr Curtis had sent letters to Mr Wicker's office several times before with the message "this is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message". Such language is typically used by candidates at the end of campaign ads.

In several letters to Mr Wicker and other officials, Curtis said he was writing a novel about black market body parts called Missing Pieces.

Curtis also had posted language similar to the letters on his Facebook page, the affidavit claimed.

The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years.

In 2007, Curtis's former wife called police to report that her husband was extremely delusional, anti-government and felt that the government was spying on him with drones.

Mr Curtis was arrested on Wednesday at his home.

The material discovered in the letter to Mr Wicker has been confirmed through field testing and laboratory testing to contain ricin, the Senate sergeant-at-arms Terrance Gainer said yesterday.

The FBI has not yet reported the results of its own testing of materials sent to Mr Wicker and to Mr Obama.