Man accused of threatening 8 Jewish centers appears in court

The prosecution of Juan Thompson, accused of threatening eight Jewish community centers in the US, has begun.

A former journalist from St. Louis who was arrested on a cyberstalking charge related to threats against Jewish organizations made his first New York court appearance on Wednesday and was given legal representation.

Juan Thompson, who was transferred from St. Louis, appeared briefly in federal court, where US Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV appointed an attorney to represent him.

The attorney, Mark Gombiner, declined to make a bail argument, so Thompson will likely remain incarcerated until an April 10 hearing. Gombiner declined to comment outside court.

Prosecutors said Thompson made threats against at least eight Jewish community centers, schools or other facilities to harass his girlfriend. The government alleges in court papers that he sometimes emailed threats using the woman’s name or used his name but claimed she was trying to implicate him.

Thompson was fired from the online publication The Intercept last year after being accused of fabricating story details.

Since January 9, there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces, according to a report last week by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that battles anti-Semitism.

Israeli police last week arrested a young Israeli-American man in Ashkelon and said he was the primary suspect in the majority of the threats.

In a detention order earlier this month, a magistrate judge in Missouri said Thompson was alleged to have made threats in January and February through social media and telephone calls. He cited the threats and said Thompson also was alleged to have violated earlier court orders. He said placing Thompson in the custody of his family in the St. Louis area would not assure the court that he would not continue to use the internet and other communication media to make threats.

By: AP