According to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, a California man has been arrested and charged with threatening to kill the family of FCC chairman Ajit Pai last fall because the man was angry over the repeal of network neutrality rules.
Makara Man, 33, of Norwalk, Calif., allegedly sent three emails to Pai Dec. 19 and 20, 2017, the first claiming a child had committed suicide because of the repeal, the second threatening to kill Pai’s family members, and the third including an image of Pai with a framed photo of his family.
Federal agents tracked the emails and confronted Man, who admitting to writing the emails because he wanted to “scare” Pai.
Man was charged in federal court with threatening to kill an official’s family member to interfere with his official duties or retaliate for the performance of those duties. He faces up to a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.
The FCC voted on Dec. 14 to eliminate the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization following a contentious run-up to the vote in which Pai was savaged and harassed and threatened by a fringe element in the net neutrality activist community. The FCC chairman was the subject of racist comments, death threats and other invective from online trolls, and was even accused of choking, strangling and killing the open internet by more mainstream activist groups and Hill Democrats, some of whom also branded Pai and fellow Republicans’ actions “un-American.”
There were also protests outside Pai’s house, including ones targeting his children, during the run-up to the Dec. 14 vote, where a bomb threat briefly cleared the FCC meeting room.