Ottawa, Ontario – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) in Ottawa has arrested and charged a man with terrorist hoax and uttering threats offences, after suspicious letters were received by federal and provincial government offices.
In April 29, 2021, a staff member at a government office in Ottawa opened an envelope addressed to a Government of Canada official that contained a letter with the inscription “You’ve Been Anthraxed”. Anthrax is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. A chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) team was deployed as part of the police response. Based on initial field tests and further analysis of the contents of the envelope, it was determined that it did not contain a hazardous substance.
On May 6, 2021, members of the RCMP INSET arrested Joseph Knipfel in connection with this incident. A search warrant was executed at Mr. Knipfel’s residence on the same day and various items were seized including electronic devices, documents as well as copies of letters alleging to have contained anthrax.
The RCMP was able to intercept other letters of the same type mailed to both domestic and foreign government officials. Furthermore, the investigation uncovered evidence of links to a string of similar letters, believed to have been authored by the accused, sent to Government of Canada officials back in 2020, claiming that those letters had been infected with the coronavirus.
Joseph Knipfel, (age 63) of St. Catharines, Ontario was charged with:
Hoax – terrorist activity, contrary to the Criminal Code, 7 Counts
Uttering threats, contrary to the Criminal Code, 18 Counts
Mr. Knipfel is scheduled to appear at the St. Catharines Courthouse located at 59 Church Street in Street, St. Catharines, Ontario on July 8, 2021. The investigation is ongoing.
The RCMP would like to acknowledge the Ottawa Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Parliamentary Protective Service, Legislative Protective Service, Canada Post and Postal Inspectors for their collaboration during this investigation.
Public reporting of suspicious activity is paramount to law enforcement efforts to keep people safe. To report an immediate threat to national security, please call 911 or your local police department. To report non-immediate threat information related to national security, please contact the RCMP National Security Tip Line: 1-800-420-5805.
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