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The Crimson complied with a subpoena to turn over a “narrow” span of traffic logs to its website on Wednesday after one of its reporters received an emailed threat that referenced the unfounded bomb scare in and around Harvard Yard earlier this week.
Investigators delivered the subpoena to The Crimson’s offices at about 6:30 p.m., several hours after one of the paper’s reporters contacted the Harvard University Police Department about receiving an emailed threat late Wednesday morning.
That email referenced the bomb threat that Harvard police received on Monday and included an additional threat. In an email bearing the subject line “Harvard Bombing Confession,” an unidentified sender implied involvement in the Monday’s bomb scare and threatened unspecified actions if The Crimson did not publish the message. The sender, using an email client often associated with underground websites known as the “dark web,” also threatened action if the federal authorities failed to solve a cryptic message.
The sender signed the email in what appeared to be a false name.
Crimson President Steven S. Lee ’16 refused to share the contents of the subpoena and did not comment on what range of web access information the legal document requested, though he described the span as “narrow.”
It is unclear whether the subpoena relates to Monday’s threat at Harvard, which targeted four buildings and shut down the Yard for hours. Lee said the subpoena originated from the District Court of Massachusetts and referenced the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but did not specify what the web access requests pertained to. He stressed that The Crimson did not transfer any information concerning sources or reporting to law enforcement.
“In general, we would object to giving up information about sources or giving up confidential information we might have gathered from our sources through our reporting—any editorial documents that are produced during the writing, editing, and publishing phases of our processes,” Lee said.
HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano wrote in an emailed statement late Wednesday that an investigation into the unfounded bomb threats was “active and ongoing.”
The anonymous email raised further questions about the threat that led to Monday’s closure of the Yard and the evacuation of four buildings. Those four facilities—Harvard’s Science Center and Sever, Emerson, and Thayer Halls—were also evacuated after several Harvard affiliates received a bomb threat in December 2013. Authorities named then-College sophomore Eldo Kim a suspect in that case within a day and later charged him, but they have yet to release details of any suspects potentially responsible for this week’s threats.
Kim no longer appears in the Harvard College directory and has entered a pretrial diversionary program.
Lee said he was legally obligated to follow the subpoena request, to the best of his knowledge, and that the document commanded that The Crimson either appear in court on Thursday with the requested information or provide the data immediately. Lee said he sought legal advice from The Crimson’s retained counsel, but would not comment on those conversations.
Law enforcement officials did not mention any further investigatory steps that would relate to The Crimson, Lee said.
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.
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