Alleged Christchurch gunman sends letter from prison cell

The shooter, Tarrant, wrote the letter with a pencil on a small notepad. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019

Alleged Christchurch gunman sends letter from prison cell

  • The letter was published on 4chan
  • Tarrant said that a “great conflict” is looming

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand officials admitted Wednesday that they made a mistake by allowing the man accused of killing 51 people at two Christchurch mosques to send a hand-written letter from his prison cell.
The six-page letter from Brenton Tarrant was posted this week on the website 4chan, which has become notorious as a place for white supremacists to post their views. And it comes at a sensitive time, with other alleged killers from El Paso to Norway citing Tarrant as an inspiration.
The letter appears to be written in pencil on a small notepad and is addressed to “Alan” in Russia. Much of it appears to be relatively innocuous, discussing a one-month trip Tarrant says he took to Russia in 2015. But the letter also warns that a “great conflict” is coming and uses language that could be construed as a call to arms.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said in statement that he didn’t believe the prison system should have allowed Tarrant to send the letter.
“I have made myself clear that this cannot happen again,” Davis said.
But Davis also said that all New Zealand prisoners have rights that include the ability to send and receive mail. He said the prison system has the ability to withhold correspondence and withheld some other letters Tarrant had attempted to send or receive.
“We have never had to manage a prisoner like this before — and I have asked questions around whether our laws are now fit for purpose and asked for advice on what changes we may now need to make,” Davis said.
In the letter, dated July 4, Tarrant thanks “Alan” for postage stamps he apparently sent, saying they’re the only two pieces of color in an otherwise gray cell and adds that he’ll have to hide them from the guards.
Tarrant cites Plato and other philosophers and writers as inspiration for his views, and says he “cannot go into any great detail about regrets or feelings as the guards will confiscate my letter if I do” and use it as evidence.
Opposition spokesman David Bennett said Davis needed to demand immediate answers as to how an inflammatory letter could be sent from inside a maximum security prison.
“This man is accused of carrying out one of the most heinous crimes in New Zealand history,” Bennett said in a statement. “New Zealanders will be horrified that Corrections allowed him to send a letter which includes a call to action and has subsequently been posted online.”
Before the March 15 shootings, Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, posted a 74-page manifesto on the website 8chan in which he outlined his racist views and his beliefs that immigrants were invaders who would replace the white race.
8chan, seen as a more radical offshoot of 4chan, was effectively knocked offline this month after two companies cut off vital technical services in response to claims that the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, posted a racist anti-Latino screed on the site just before the Aug. 3 killings.
Like the Texas gunman, a Norwegian man suspected of killing his stepsister and then storming an Oslo mosque with guns this month is also believed to have found inspiration in Tarrant’s actions.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed never to utter Tarrant’s name in order to deny him the publicity she says he craves, making Tarrant’s letter even more of an embarrassment for the government.
It’s not the first misstep by New Zealand authorities in the case. Police initially filed a single representative murder charge against Tarrant but mistakenly named somebody who was still alive before later amending the charge.
Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to terrorism, murder and attempted murder charges following the mosque attacks. He remains in jail ahead of his trial, which has been scheduled for May.


Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

Updated 15 min 6 sec ago

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

  • WHO issues first report on microplastics in drinking water
  • Reassures consumers that risk is low, but says more study needed
GENEVA: Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns but the limited data appears reassuring, the UN agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Center, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens — including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrheal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”