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Calling Them 'The Enemy Of The People,' A Calif. Man Is Charged With Threatening Globe Employees

1 Exchange Place in Boston, where the Globe is located (WBUR file photo)
1 Exchange Place in Boston, where the Globe is located (WBUR file photo)

A California man is charged with threatening to kill employees of the Boston Globe, after the Globe editorial board's leadership of a nationwide journalism campaign in defense of freedom of the press and against political attacks.

Robert Chain, 68, of Encino, California, was arrested and charged Thursday, the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts announced.

In threatening calls, Chain allegedly referred to the Globe as "the enemy of the people," a phrase used repeatedly — and as recently as Thursday morning — by President Trump.

The Globe's own editorial as part of the coordinated effort was headlined, "Journalists are not the enemy."

Prosecutors say Chain's calls to the Globe began on Aug. 10, when the Globe requested that other publications join in its #freepress campaign. Chain allegedly made "approximately 14 threatening phone calls" to the Globe between Aug. 10 and Aug. 22, the U.S. attorney's office said.

According to a six-page affidavit from an FBI special agent, in one call, on Aug. 13, Chain allegedly said: "We are going to shoot you motherf------ in the head, you Boston Globe ----suckers. Shoot every ----ing one of you.”

On Aug. 16, when the editorials were published, Chain called the Globe newsroom and, according to the U.S. attorney's office, "threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head 'later today, at 4 o’clock.' " Local law enforcement maintained a presence outside the Globe's downtown Boston office, following that call.

And on one call, on Aug. 22, Chain allegedly said:

... As long as you keep attacking the President, the duly elected President of the United States, in the continuation of your treasonous and seditious acts, I will continue to threats, harass, and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, the other fake news.

(The Globe is no longer owned by the Times.)

"Anyone – regardless of political affiliation – who puts others in fear for their lives will be prosecuted by this office," Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, a Trump appointee, said in the statement. "In a time of increasing political polarization, and amid the increasing incidence of mass shootings, members of the public must police their own political rhetoric. Or we will.”

Chain owns several firearms, the FBI affidavit said.

Chain is charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. He is set to appear in federal court in Los Angeles later Thursday, and will be transferred to Boston at at later date.

It was not immediately clear if Chain has an attorney, the Associated Press said.

Note: WBUR's opinion section, Cognoscenti, participated in the press freedom editorial effort.

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.

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