68-year-old man, who threatened to shoot The Boston Globe staff 'in the head', charged by federal authorities

Boston: Federal authorities have charged a California man with threatening to kill employees of The Boston Globe for the newspaper’s role leading this month’s defence of press freedoms by hundreds of US news organizations against attacks by president Donald Trump.

Prosecutors said 68-year-old Robert Chain called journalists “the enemy of the people” in threatening phone calls that echoed the phrase Trump has used to criticise unflattering news coverage through his campaign and years in office.

The Boston Globe moved newspapers across the US to publish a rebuke of Donald Trump for denouncing media organizations as enemies of the American people. Reuters

The Boston Globe moved newspapers across the US to publish a rebuke of Donald Trump for denouncing media organizations as enemies of the American people. Reuters

“In a time of increasing political polarisation, and amid the increasing incidence of mass shootings, members of the public must police their own political rhetoric. Or we will,” Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts and a Trump appointee, said in a statement on the arrest.

Prosecutors said Chain, who lives in Encino, California, was arrested on Thursday charged with one count of making threatening communications to interstate commerce. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors also said that Chain made 14 threatening calls to the Globe from 10 through 22 August, including on 16 August — the day the press freedom editorials ran — when he threatened to shoot employees in the head at 4 pm that prompted authorities to station police outside the paper’s Boston building.

“While it was unsettling for many of our staffers to be threatened in such a way, nobody — really, nobody — let it get in the way of the important work of this institution,” Jane Bowman, a Globe spokeswoman, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether Chain had hired an attorney.

The Boston Globe on 10 August announced its plan for coordinated editorials defending press freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Newspapers and other media outlets across the United States joined in on 16 August.

The editorials led Trump to lash out on Twitter, saying:

Trump continued bashing news media organisations on Wednesday and Thursday, lashing out at NBC and CNN, and again using the phrase “enemy of the people.”

In June, five people were shot dead at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, allegedly by a man by a longstanding grudge against the paper, prosecutors said.

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Updated Date: Aug 31, 2018 10:26:48 IST

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