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FBI arrests man in ricin probe

WASHINGTON — The FBI arrested a Mississippi man yesterday in connection with letters sent to President Barack Obama and two other officials that are believed to have contained the deadly poison ricin, the US Justice Department said.

Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, and is “believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the US Postal Inspection Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin”, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The letters were addressed to a US senator, the White House and a Mississippi justice official, the statement said.

The ricin poison scare hit Washington after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured 176 on Monday, but the FBI said there was no indication the incidents were connected.

The FBI said the envelope sent to Obama was received at a mail-screening facility outside the White House and was immediately quarantined. Preliminary tests showed it contained the deadly poison ricin, the FBI said

Washington was put on edge on Tuesday evening when news emerged that authorities had intercepted a letter sent to Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi that had initially tested positive for ricin.

Following the arrest, Wicker issued a statement thanking the FBI and Capitol Police “for their professionalism and decisive action in keeping our family and staff safe from harm”.

The letters to Obama and Wicker had identical language, included the phrase, “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance”. They were signed, “I am KC and I approve this message”, according to an FBI operations bulletin reviewed by Reuters.

Two law enforcement sources said investigators believed the man arrested was the same person as Kevin Curtis, who they say has posted rants on the Internet and performed as an entertainer and Elvis Presley impersonator.

In an online comment on an Elvis blog post in 2007, a Kevin Curtis complained that several Elvis contests in several states “were rigged with hosts and judges getting kick-backs.” The signature was: “This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message”. (Reuters)

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