'You've Been Anthraxed.' Ontario man faces hoax terrorism charges after letters to government

·2 min read
RCMP Sgt. Lucie Lapointe says some of the charges that Joseph Knipfel is facing are related to an incident that took place at 131 Queen Street in Ottawa on April 29, 2021. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC - image credit)
RCMP Sgt. Lucie Lapointe says some of the charges that Joseph Knipfel is facing are related to an incident that took place at 131 Queen Street in Ottawa on April 29, 2021. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC - image credit)

A St. Catharines, Ont. man faces hoax terrorism and uttering threats charges after RCMP say staff at a government office in Ottawa opened a letter that said "You've Been Anthraxed."

Joseph Knipfel, 63, was arrested on May 6, following an investigation by the RCMP's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.

RCMP Sgt. Lucie Lapointe said Friday that "We can confirm that the some of the charges that Joseph Knipfel is facing are related to the incident that took place at 131 Queen Street in Ottawa on April 29, 2021."

Police say they seized electronic devices, documents and copies of other letters alleged to contain anthrax during a search of his home.

The RCMP also intercepted similar letters it says had been mailed to both domestic and foreign officials.

"Furthermore, the investigation uncovered evidence of links to a string of similar letters, believed to have been authored by the accused, sent to Government of Canada officials back in 2020, claiming that those letters had been infected with the coronavirus," read a media release from the RCMP.

Knipfel is charged with seven counts of hoax terrorist activity and 18 counts of uttering threats.

Police say they began investigating after suspicious letters were sent to federal and provincial government offices.

The letter received in Ottawa with the message about anthrax — a serious and sometimes deadly disease — was addressed to a Canadian official and opened on April 29, according to the RCMP.

A team that specializes in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives incidents linked to suspected terrorist activities was part of the police response.

The RCMP says field tests and analysis showed the envelope and its contents did not contain a hazardous substance.

Knipfel is scheduled to appear in court in St. Catharines on July 8. Police are continuing to investigate.

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