Harvard hoax: Harvard student faces federal charges over campus bomb hoax

Harvard hoax: A Harvard student trying to avoid an exam sent emails saying bombs had been placed around the Harvard campus, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Elise Amendola/AP
SWAT officers arrive at a Harvard University building in Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 16. Four campus buildings were evacuated and final exams were postponed Monday after campus police received an unconfirmed report that explosives may have been placed inside.

Bomb threats that led to the evacuations of four Harvard University campus buildings this week were made by a student trying to get out of taking a final exam, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The student, 20-year-old Eldo Kim, sent emails saying bombs had been placed around campus to Harvard police, two university officials and the president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper, according to a criminal complaint filed by the US attorney's office.

The messages said shrapnel bombs would go off soon in two of four buildings, including one where prosecutors say Kim was supposed to take an exam at 9 a.m. Monday. The buildings, on Harvard's campus in Cambridge, just outside Boston, were shut down for hours before investigators determined there were no explosives.

Kim, who lives in Cambridge, is to make an initial court appearance Wednesday. It was unknown if he had an attorney.

Investigators from several agencies searched the buildings for hours before determining there were no explosives. One of the buildings was a freshman dormitory; classes are held in the other three.

Harvard said in a statement it was "saddened" by the allegations in the federal complaint but would have no further comment on the ongoing criminal investigation.

An FBI affidavit filed Tuesday says Harvard determined Kim had accessed TOR, a free Internet product that assigns a temporary anonymous Internet protocol address, using the university's wireless network.

The affidavit says Kim told an agent on Monday night he had acted alone and sent the messages to five or six Harvard email addresses he picked at random.

He said he sent them about half an hour before he was scheduled to take a final in Emerson Hall, one of the buildings threatened, the affidavit says. He said he was in Emerson at 9 a.m. when a fire alarm sounded and he knew his plan had worked, it says.

Kim said he sent the emails from his laptop computer using TOR and Guerrilla Mail, a free Internet application that creates temporary and anonymous email addresses, according to the affidavit.

Kim's LinkedIn profile says he is an undergraduate scholar at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences. The institute's website says he is a research assistant who has worked for a professor analyzing partisan taunting and also writes for the Harvard International Review and dances as a member of the Harvard Breakers.

The maximum penalties for a bomb hoax are five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

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