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HUPD Closes Email Threat Investigation

By Meg P. Bernhard, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard University Police Department’s two-month-long investigation into the origins of a racially charged, emailed death threat sent primarily to female Asian American Harvard affiliates in early October has officially concluded, according to an email sent Friday by Assistant Dean of Student Life Emelyn A. dela Peña.

German authorities will now take the helm in the ongoing investigation to apprehend and prosecute the sender of the threat, according to the email.

HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano wrote in an email to The Crimson that “the investigation is still open,” and would not comment on an open investigation per HUPD policy. He confirmed in an email that the investigation will now be led in German.

A person who self-identified as Huy Dinh had been contacting dozens of Harvard affiliates with requests for donations and Facebook followers for several months from the same email address linked to the death threat in October. The sender claimed to live in Hamburg, Germany, according to copies of some of the emails forwarded to The Crimson.

Catalano wrote in another email that “all indications are that there is one sender,” who, through multiple accounts, sent Harvard affiliates the death threat and additional followup emails, including an apology for the threat.

Dela Peña wrote that College administration is now collaborating with Harvard University Information and Technology to “develop additional outreach and educational efforts to enhance cybersecurity and online safety for our community.” Dela Peña referred to the initial threat as a “hate crime.”

In addition, as indicated in an email sent to the College community on Oct. 31, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana has charged Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde and dela Peña with spearheading reform of the school’s bias reporting system, in an effort to ease the process of reporting bias, discrimination, and harassment on campus.

The Harvard College Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion is currently gathering information about peer institutions’ bias reporting systems. The College will organize focus groups to solicit feedback on bias reporting next semester, according to dela Peña.

Dela Peña said that she was unable to comment this weekend.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

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