A Syracuse, N.Y., man has been arrested and charged for threatening to kill Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., and his family over net neutrality.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that 28-year-old Patrick Angelo was charged with interstate communication of a threat and threatening a federal official.
Angelo allegedly left a voicemail with Katko’s Washington, D.C., office Oct. 19 that included a threat to kill the congressman and his family if he didn’t back net neutrality.
“Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you. But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family, and I will kill you all. Do you understand?” Angelo said in the voicemail, according to a criminal complaint. “I will literally find all of you and your progeny and just wipe you from the face of the earth.”
“Net neutrality is more important than the defense of the United States. Net neutrality is more important than free speech. Net neutrality is more important than healthcare. Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new society,” the voicemail continued. “That even if you don’t understand how important it is, net neutrality is literally the basis of the new free society. So if you don’t support it, I am willing to lay down my li…”
The voicemail then ended.
Katko’s office reported the message to the Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Section, which, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigated the call. In the wake of the death threat, Katko received increased security.
Angelo faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
The debate around net neutrality intensified last week when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced the panel will vote Dec. 14 to repeal the rules. Net neutrality rules are designed to ensure Internet service providers treat all web content equally by preventing them from slowing blocking, or interfering with web traffic.
Pai’s announcement prompted backlash from Democrats in Congress, activists and celebrities who urged the FCC and Republicans in Congress to oppose the chairman’s plan.
In response to his announcement, Pai has been harassed by net neutrality proponents who placed cardboard signs around his Virginia home denouncing him for his efforts to repeal the rules.