A 33-year-old resident of Norwalk, California was arrested today for sending threatening emails to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai last year, according to the US Department of Justice. The threats, sent by an individual named Makara Man, were made primarily in the second of three messages sent to Pai’s official FCC email accounts in late December, just days after the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality protections.
The first email allegedly accused Pai of causing the suicide of a teenager through his actions that led to the net neutrality vote. The second email contained an explicit threat against members of Pai’s family, as well as a listing of three locations in and around Arlington, Virginia where Pai is said to live. The third email allegedly contained a photo of Pai and a separate photo of Pai and his family.
According to the Justice Department, the FBI traced the emails to Man’s home, where he acknowledged sending the threats. He also confirmed his use of an email alias, “Stubblemanliness@gmail.com,” allegedly because the alias would make him seem “tougher,” according to the affidavit. Apparently, Man intended to “scare” Pai because he was “anger” over the repealing of net neutrality protections, the affidavit reads.
Man is being charged with threatening to murder a family member of an acting US official with the intent of interfering with said official’s job performance and duties, or threatening to retaliative against a US official for their specific job performance. The charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Since Pai’s controversial stance on net neutrality directly resulted in a successful vote to remove the Title II classification for internet service providers in December of last year, the chairman has been subjected to a fair amount of heated criticism online and off. Following the vote late last year, Pai was scheduled to appear at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January. However, his appearance was cancelled due to death threats made against him, Recode reported at the time.