by Andrew Walden
Another black eye for Ebay and Paypal owner, Hawaii luxury resort developer, and Civil Beat publisher Pierre Omidyar.
Juan M Thompson, a journalist dismissed last year from an Omidyar news site for fabricating stories, is being charged with making threats to several Jewish community centers nationwide.
Akamai readers will remember the sorry tales of woe from Omidyar’s OTHER hastily-conceived internet-based journalism startup, “The Intercept.”
In Summer 2013, UK Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald teamed up with Edward Snowden and began exposing Silicon Valley complicity in massive spying on American citizens including collection of every email message, records of every phone call, photos of every letter sent in the USPS, and records of electronic financial transactions.
By October, 2013 Silicon Valley panic turned to action. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. EBay’s Omidyar suddenly hired Greenwald away from The Guardian to form The Intercept—modeled on his experience with Hawaii Civil Beat.
To make it look like more than a grab for control of Greenwald and Snowden, Omidyar had to hire other people and rush The Intercept into being. Here are some flashbacks from those heady days in 2013 and 2014:
One might have been forgiven for thinking that we had seen the last of Omidyar’s clownish crew. The Snowden genie was back in the bottle. Silicon Valley was safe.
Then Juan M Thompson brought it all rushing back. ABC News March 3, 2017 reports:
A former journalist fired for making up details in stories is behind at least eight of the scores of threats made against Jewish institutions nationwide, as well as a bomb threat to the Anti-Defamation League, in an effort to harass and vilify his ex-girlfriend, federal officials said Friday.
Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested in St. Louis and will appear in federal court in Missouri on Friday afternoon on a charge of cyberstalking, authorities said. There was no information on an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
Federal officials have been investigating 122 bomb threats called in to nearly 100 Jewish Community Center schools, child care and similar facilities in three dozen states that began Jan. 9. Thompson started making his own threats Jan. 28, and authorities are continuing to investigate the others, they said.
Yes--The “former journalist” and Black Lives Matter activist Thompson was an Omidyar wunderkind. A once-again-embarrassed Intercept today admitted:
We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking. These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted. We have no information about the charges against Thompson other than what is included in the criminal complaint. Thompson worked for The Intercept from November 2014 to January 2016, when he was fired after we discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles.
After working for a billionaire, Thompson doesn’t seen to like capitalism much. ABC News explains:
Thompson was fired from the online publication The Intercept last year after being accused of fabricating several quotes and creating fake email accounts to impersonate people, including the Intercept's editor-in-chief. One of the stories involved Dylann Roof, the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter. Thompson had written that a cousin named Scott Roof claimed the white gunman was angry that a love interest chose a black man over him. A review showed there was no cousin by that name. The story was retracted….
The Anti-Defamation League said Thompson had been on its radar since he fabricated the story about Roof. According to ADL research, Thompson had also claimed that he wanted to dismantle the system of "racial supremacy and greedy capitalism that is stacked against us." He said he was going to run for mayor of St. Louis last year to "fight back against Trumpian fascism and socio-economic terrorism."
In a further irony, it appears electronic spying may have assisted investigators to identify Thompson.
The US DoJ news release announcing Thompson’s arrest charges he emailed a message: “using an internet protocol (“IP”) address that THOMPSON had previously used to access his social media account.” ABC News reports: “A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Friday that the Federal Communications Commission will grant an emergency waiver that allows Jewish community centers and their phone carriers to track the numbers of callers who make threats.”
The FBI continues to investigate other threats against Jewish Community Centers nationwide—including a February 27 threat against Temple Emanu-El in Nuuanu.
PDF: US v Juan Thompson