RCMP charge Ontario man in alleged terrorist hoax after suspicious letters to govt

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An Ontario man has been accused of a carrying out a terrorism hoax after police allege he sent suspicious letters to federal and provincial government offices.

The RCMP said Friday that a staff member at a government office in Ottawa opened an envelope in April containing a letter with the inscription "You've been Anthraxed." The force noted that anthrax is a serious and potentially fatal bacterial disease.

Field tests and further analysis of the contents of the envelope determined that it did not contain a hazardous substance, police said.

On May 6, police arrested Joseph Knipfel, 63, in connection with the letter.

"A search warrant was executed at Mr. Knipfel's residence on the same day and various items were seized including electronic devices, documents as well as copies of letters alleging to have contained anthrax," the RCMP said in a statement.

Officers were able to intercept other letters of the same type allegedly mailed to domestic and foreign government officials, the force said.

The RCMP said it also found evidence of links to a string of similar letters, allegedly written by Knipfel, sent to federal officials in 2020, claiming that those letters had been infected with the coronavirus.

Police said Knipfel, from St. Catharines, Ont., faces seven counts of terrorism hoax and 18 counts of uttering threats.

He is set to appear in a St. Catharines court on July 8, police said, noting that the investigation continues.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press

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