A US firefighter dressed in a protective suit walks out of a government mail screening facility near Washington. A Mississippi man was arrested in connection with the suspected ricin letters.
Following last week’s hyped up media reports on the arrest of a Mississippi man for mailing poisonous letters to US President Barack Obama, a senator and a judge, FBI has announced that it has not found any poison-making materials at his home.
“There was no apparent ricin, castor beans or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something,” FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) Agent Brandon Grant testified Friday at a preliminary hearing at a federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, according to local press reports on Monday and Tuesday.
Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested and charged last Wednesday on the suspicion of mailing three letters tainted with ricin, a fatal biological poison, to Obama, Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker and a state judge just a day after the deadly Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, prompting growing fears across the US that the country may be under another major attack, reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 incidents in New York and Virginia that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Meanwhile, Curtis' attorney, Christi McCoy, has insisted that "There is absolutely not a shred of evidence to link this poor guy" to an attempted poisoning.
“That’s the truth!" McCoy said. "He is the perfect scapegoat, the perfect patsy, and it’s really sad because at first everybody’s like, you know, he’s kind of crazy, maybe he did it. But as the searches continued, there’s just nothing on this guy. Nothing on his computers, in his car, in his house.”
US authorities first insisted that the letters tested positive for containing the deadly bio agent but then announced that more accurate examination of the mailings must be conducted at specialized FBI laboratories to confirm earlier tests.
This is while the FBI announced on Wednesday that is was still waiting for a “final word on whether the letters to Obama and Wicker definitely contained ricin.”
“The initial tests can be inaccurate,” a Washington Post
report emphasized on Thursday, adding that in 2004 a letter sent to a top US senator was initially believed to contain ricin but additional tests proved it was harmless.
The letters sent to Obama and Wicker were reportedly similar in content and the origin of their postmark, Memphis, Tennessee. They read, "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both of them were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."
According to local reports last Thursday, at least five other senators were reportedly forced into an emergency mode for receiving “suspicious” packages at their offices in Washington or their home states, “prompting evacuations of their staff and lock downs of many more.”
Furthermore, US police ordered thousand of congressional staffers and aides not to leave their offices after a bag was reportedly sighted at the entranceway of a Senate office building, as a bomb squad raced towards the Capitol Hill. Two hours later, however, the package, as well as two letters delivered to the officers of two senators was cleared as not harmful.
Curtis, according to US press reports, held a “morbid” theory that the American government was involved in an organ-selling conspiracy after observing body parts in the freezer of the hospital where he used to work in 1999.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, US confronted a series of alleged ‘anthrax attacks’ that were never formally solved. A former Army scientist, Steven Hatfill, was falsely and publicly implicated and later exonerated by way of several lawsuit settlements. Officials later focused on Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins, who killed himself in 2008, though the case against him was also met with doubts.