Court extends detention of Israeli-American teen suspected of US bomb threats
JACK GUEZ (AFP/File)
An Israeli court on Thursday remanded in police custody the Israeli-American teenager accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats to Jewish institutions across the United States and other countries.
The suspect, whose identity remains under gag order, appeared at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s court where in addition to the remand request, police also filed a declaration against the suspect which will likely serve as the basis for his indictment.
"The suspect involved in the ongoing case into threats made in the US and other countries will remain under arrest for a further five days," an Israel police foreign spokesperson said in a statement.
According to Hebrew media reports, the suspect is expected to be indicted in the coming days for extortion by threats, publishing false information that causes public fear and panic, conspiring to commit a crime, computer offenses and money laundering offenses.
The 18-year-old is accused of being behind a wave of hundreds of bomb threats to American Jewish institutions since the start of the year, which helped spread fears over whether hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts have been on the increase in the country.
Police said the suspect had a bitcoin account estimated to be worth millions of Israeli shekels, raising suspicions that the teen was being paid in the virtual currency for the threats. Another report alleged he was believed to have sold forged documents online.
Police said he used voice-disguising technology when making calls. Authorities have seized computer equipment and other items.
In an earlier hearing, the suspect's lawyer told the court that the teen has autism and a brain tumor which she said may have led him to wrongdoing through no fault of his own.
She showed the court an image of what appeared to be a tumor on the right side of his brain, but gave no medical details.
The teenager is also suspected of being behind similar threats in New Zealand and Australia.
In addition, police say he is suspected of a bomb threat to Delta Airlines in February 2015 which led to an emergency landing.
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