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Accused Christchurch mosque attacker sends letter from prison cell

23 Comments
By NICK PERRY

New Zealand officials admitted Wednesday that they made a mistake by allowing the man accused of killing 51 people at two Christchurch mosques to send a hand-written letter from his prison cell.

The six-page letter from Brenton Tarrant was posted this week on the website 4chan, which has become notorious as a place for white supremacists to post their views. And it comes at a sensitive time, with other alleged killers from El Paso to Norway citing Tarrant as an inspiration.

The letter appears to be written in pencil on a small notepad and is addressed to "Alan" in Russia. Much of it appears to be relatively innocuous, discussing a one-month trip Tarrant says he took to Russia in 2015. But the letter also warns that a "great conflict" is coming and uses language that could be construed as a call to arms.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said in statement that he didn't believe the prison system should have allowed Tarrant to send the letter.

"I have made myself clear that this cannot happen again," Davis said.

But Davis also said that all New Zealand prisoners have rights that include the ability to send and receive mail. He said the prison system can withhold correspondence and withheld some other letters Tarrant had attempted to send or receive.

"We have never had to manage a prisoner like this before — and I have asked questions around whether our laws are now fit for purpose and asked for advice on what changes we may now need to make," Davis said.

In the letter, dated July 4, Tarrant thanks "Alan" for postage stamps he apparently sent, saying they're the only two pieces of color in an otherwise gray cell and adds that he'll have to hide them from the guards.

Tarrant cites Plato and other philosophers and writers as inspiration for his views, and says he "cannot go into any great detail about regrets or feelings as the guards will confiscate my letter if I do" and use it as evidence.

Opposition spokesman David Bennett said Davis needed to demand immediate answers as to how an inflammatory letter could be sent from inside a maximum security prison.

"This man is accused of carrying out one of the most heinous crimes in New Zealand history," Bennett said in a statement. "New Zealanders will be horrified that Corrections allowed him to send a letter which includes a call to action and has subsequently been posted online."

The Corrections Department, which oversees prisons, said the law only allows a prison director to withhold a prisoner's mail in a "very limited" range of circumstances.

"On review, we acknowledge that this letter should have been withheld," the department said in a statement. "We have made changes to the management of this prisoner's mail to ensure that our robust processes are as effective as we need them to be."

Before the March 15 shootings, Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, posted a 74-page manifesto on the website 8chan in which he outlined his racist views and his beliefs that immigrants were invaders who would replace the white race.

8chan, seen as a more radical offshoot of 4chan, was effectively knocked offline this month after two companies cut off vital technical services in response to claims that the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, posted a racist anti-Latino screed on the site just before the Aug. 3 killings.

Like the Texas gunman, a Norwegian man suspected of killing his stepsister and then storming an Oslo mosque with guns this month is also believed to have found inspiration in Tarrant's actions.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed never to utter Tarrant's name in order to deny him the publicity she says he craves, making Tarrant's letter even more of an embarrassment for the government.

"I think every New Zealander would have an expectation that this individual should not be able to share his hateful message from behind bars," she told media on the island nation of Tuvalu, where she is traveling to attend a meeting of Pacific leaders.

It's not the first misstep by New Zealand authorities in the case. Police initially filed a single representative murder charge against Tarrant but mistakenly named somebody who was still alive before later amending the charge.

Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to terrorism, murder and attempted murder charges following the mosque attacks. He remains in jail ahead of his trial, which has been scheduled for next May.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Could well be full of code, this letter. I have zero interest in visiting these platforms for hate in order to read it.

At least the guy (not going to name him) gets to send letters. His victims will never have the joy of writing or receiving letters again.

RIP.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I really have no interest in hearing any piece of news about this subhuman, unless it's about him dying.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

That he has supporters is what scares me. Perhaps allowing him to send mail can point to some who ought to be looked at carefully.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Tarrant says he took to Russia in 2015

website 4chan, which has become notorious as a place for white supremacists to post their views

The global alt right use media of all forms very effectively to distort and sow discord throughout the 'west'. Not surprising a white supremacist like the mass murderer mentioned in the article is reported to have Russian connections. Given Russian involvement in 'western' media of all forms, in the US in far right organizations like the NRA and in white supremacist organizations like the KKK where they fan racial tension flames, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with even a modicum of reasoning skills that Russians - aided by Bannon's nihilists and others - are doing whatever they can to further undermine 'western' democracies.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

This guy's repugnant, no doubt.

Innocent until proven guilty means you still retain rights. Start degrading those rights and ours are next.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

So anti immigration now equals white supremacy?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

So anti immigration now equals white supremacy?

When you go out and murder people, it sure does.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

That he has supporters is what scares me. 

Aye. Supporters trying to normalize this hatred and carnage. Trying to rationalize it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Personally, I always want to read these guys so called manifesto(s)/letters to understand how they think, how do they become radicalized, what went wrong & when, why act now etc. I thought Tarrant's (us guy's not so much) was pretty 'interesting'; well-traveled bloke, had been to countries most ppl have never heard about (Pakistan), was -initially at least- curious about other cultures etc. Really believe that if this guy had met/talked to the 'right' ppl at the right time (or lived in another era/country), he would/could have been pro-Palestine, a member of the RAF in the 80s, a greeny/animal rights activist etc.

I've met quite a few ppl like him (mostly in oz but also in europe) and i don't think they're 'white supremacists' as such. They don't think they/white ppl are better/superior to others (on the contrary, sometimes). But they do believe, rightly or wrongly, that some ppl/cultures can't live together, are 'too' different, that their values/beliefs are incompatible with others' etc. They're more about 'compatibility' than 'supremacy' as such, imo. Reckon we need to talk to those ppl i/o ostracize/ridicule them. Pbm is govts have no answers to their -sometimes valid- questions & prefer to bury their heads in the sand.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Before the March 15 shootings, Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, posted a 74-page manifesto on the website 8chan in which he outlined his racist views and his beliefs that immigrants were invaders who would replace the white race.

8chan, seen as a more radical offshoot of 4chan, was effectively knocked offline this month after two companies cut off vital technical services in response to claims that the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, posted a racist anti-Latino screed on the site just before the Aug. 3 killings.

4 and 8 Chan, also known as the 2020 Trump Recruitment Sites....

It's amazing how much of this white supremacy hate rhetoric matches what comes out of Trump's mouth and now the Repub party...

Good old Repub Congressman Steve King in the news again today - even after he said; “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?”

Today he says; "What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?" King said in remarks supporting abortion bans that do not make exceptions for cases of rape and incest, according to video posted online by the Des Moines Register.

This guy is a real sicko - and he's a sitting Repub Congressman...

But that's today's GOP - the party of Russians (Moscow Mitch) and white supremacists (Grand Wizard King)...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@goldorak

I want to read what people like this have to say too. We won’t make any progress by just ignoring them.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So anti immigration now equals white supremacy?

Not exactly... Anti immigration is not equal to white supremacy. This part here is...

Before the March 15 shootings, Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, posted a 74-page manifesto on the website 8chan in which he outlined his racist views and his beliefs that immigrants were invaders who would replace the white race.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@goldorak

They don't think they/white ppl are better/superior to others (on the contrary, sometimes). But they do believe, rightly or wrongly, that some ppl/cultures can't live together, are 'too' different, that their values/beliefs are incompatible with others' etc. They're more about 'compatibility' than 'supremacy' as such, imo.

Excellent post.

I think the term white supremacist isn't correct. Tarrant and others don't seem to view themselves or their race as superior to others. They believe white people have the right to a homeland which is ethnically homogeneous, but they think whites will be replaced or become minorities in their own countries within the next few decades. Ethnonationalist is a more accurate label.

It is quite worrying that many are ignoring the reasons for the actions of these people. The ethnonationalists clearly state what they think, but many are trying to accuse or attribute Trump/Rep party as the source for this movement. This is a dangerous thing to do because you are looking at symptoms and not causes.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

JimizoToday 10:04 am JST

@goldorak

I want to read what people like this have to say too. We won’t make any progress by just ignoring them.

Yeah, but you guys are reasonable people, not would-be psychos reading 4chan for a few hints about how and why to be a terrorist. I admit I'm not 100% on this, but imo probably the best thing to do would be to make this stuff available to serious writers/journos/scholars and make their analyses (with the original "text") available to the world for us to judge and learn that way. 4channers probably never read books.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

not would-be psychos reading 4chan for a few hints about how and why to be a terrorist. I admit I'm not 100% on this,

@bigyen, you do have a point here (tbh am also conflicted & keep changing my mind). I still think that, as a society, we need to discuss/address some of the points he/they make, obviously without reaching the same 'this if how to fix it' conclusions.

@tangerine, completely agree. Many/most mainstream pollies (traditional left & right) & media prefer to miseducate kids/ppl, deflect from real issues and ignore the fact ppl do have different aspirations/goals/ideals in life & that most are valid. They've been over-using & abusing the term 'white supremacists' for decades (the only true white-supremacists I've met are/were euros and saffas who support(ed) Eugene Terreblanche's AWB). Not saying they're no white supremacists in the us, oz, europe & elsewhere - there are -, but labeling everyone who doesn't 100% embrace multiculturalism/all other cultures (or just not all the time, in all situations etc) as 'white supremacists' is imo simplistic, wrong & counter-productive.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

but labeling everyone who doesn't 100% embrace multiculturalism/all other cultures (or just not all the time, in all situations etc) as 'white supremacists' is imo simplistic, wrong & counter-productive.

I’m more optimistic on that point these days. There are still those who label everyone who questions immigration policy or problems with integration a racist, but I get the feeling they are being drowned out by common sense and adults in the room.

I hope this continues.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Toasted Heretic:

@Toasted Heretic

Could well be full of code, this letter. I have zero interest in visiting these platforms for hate in order to read it.

That is fine, if it is your decision not to read something. But what I find scarier that whatever this guy can possibly write is the concept that governments or big tech companies should decide what I can see and what not. That should not happen in a free society. For the life of me I can not understand how so-called "liberals" are now increasing demanding censorship.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Goldorak, Tangerine,

excellent posts.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

WilliB,

agreed.

its disturbing, the alcrity with which the NZ govrt is rushing to remove rights.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Jimizo,

well said.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@tangerine, completely agree. Many/most mainstream pollies (traditional left & right) & media prefer to miseducate kids/ppl, deflect from real issues and ignore the fact ppl do have different aspirations/goals/ideals in life & that most are valid. They've been over-using & abusing the term 'white supremacists' for decades (the only true white-supremacists I've met are/were euros and saffas who support(ed) Eugene Terreblanche's AWB).

Abusing the term white supremacists - are you kidding?

https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/white-nationalist

Not saying they're no white supremacists in the us, oz, europe & elsewhere - there are -, but labeling everyone who doesn't 100% embrace multiculturalism/all other cultures (or just not all the time, in all situations etc) as 'white supremacists' is imo simplistic, wrong & counter-productive.

And I don't see anyone doing that - I do see a lot of this...

Rep Rep Steve King: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?,"

Richard Spencer: Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory! America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us. The white race is "a race that travels forever on an upward path." To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror. "We don’t exploit other groups, we don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around. I do think we have a psychic connection, or you can say a deeper connection, with Donald Trump in a way that we simply do not have with most Republicans. I think we can be the ones out in front, thinking about those things he hasn't quite grasped yet, who are putting forward policies [that] have a realistic chance of being implemented.

Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke:  "We're gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we've believed in, that's why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he's gonna take our country back - and that's what we gotta do.”

If you're trying to downplay the rise of white supremacy, you're on the wrong side of the facts...

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I have the feeling the goal of the powers that be is to make sure all those who oppose any of their policies do not have access to weapons.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

All those dead people.

And yet some folks are more concerned with rationalising his manifesto and pretending that white supremacy isn't a thing.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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