A man angry over net neutrality has been charged with threatening to murder the family of Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai.
Late last month, Markara Man, 33, of Norwalk, California, was arrested and charged with “threatening to murder a member of the immediate family of a U.S. official U.S. [Ajit Pai] with the intent to intimidate or interfere with such official while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with the intent to retaliate against such official on account of the performance of official duties” according to a press release.
The press release from the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, also stated that, if convicted, Man will face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Man sent three emails to Pai last December, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia:
The first email accused Chairman Pai of being responsible for a child who allegedly had committed suicide because of the repeal of net neutrality regulations. The second email listed three locations in or around Arlington, and threatened to kill the Chairman’s family members. The third email had no message in its body, but included an image depicting Chairman Pai and, in the foreground and slightly out of focus, a framed photograph of Chairman Pai and his family.
With help from the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, the Federal Protective Service, and the Arlington County Police Department, Man’s identity was tracked down in May.
“When initially confronted in May 2018, Man admitted to the FBI that he sent the email threatening Chairman Pai’s family because he was ‘angry’ about the repeal of the net neutrality regulations and wanted to ‘scare’ Chairman Pai,” the press release stated.
Pai is no stranger to backlash. He’s weathered a storm of criticism for his stance on net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission voted in December to repeal net neutrality, and the new rules went into effect last month.
“The internet should be an open platform where you are free to go where you want, and say and do what you want, without having to ask anyone’s permission,” Pai wrote in an op-ed published last month at CNET. “And under the Federal Communications Commission‘s Restoring Internet Freedom Order … the internet will be just such an open platform. Our framework will protect consumers and promote better, faster internet access and more competition.”
Last November, The Daily Signal reported on Pai’s remarks at the R Street Institute, where he addressed the hostility he personally faced because of his stance on net neutrality:
Many public comments about the FCC proposal have targeted [Pai] personally—some attacking his ethnic background, such as calling for him to be “deported” to India. More recently, signs were placed near his home telling his children: “Dad murdered democracy.”