Utah man confessed to sending ricin letters

US Defence Department personnel, wearing protective suits, screen mail as it arrives at a US government facility near the Pentagon in Washington, DC. (AFP pic)

LOGAN: A 39-year-old US Navy veteran has confessed to sending letters to US President Donald Trump and other senior officials that were initially feared to contain the poison ricin when they were discovered this week, court documents showed.

William Clyde Allen III was arrested on Wednesday at his home in Logan, Utah, on a probable cause warrant and will be charged on Friday, said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office.

Aside from Trump, Allen is believed to have sent the letters containing ground castor seeds to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Defence Secretary James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, according to a probable cause statement filed in Utah state court on Wednesday.

Allen mailed the envelopes on Sept 24, the statement said.

Ricin is found naturally in castor seeds but it takes a deliberate act to convert the seeds into a biological weapon. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours of exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

The probable cause statement did not list a motive in the case. It was filed by an officer with the Utah State Bureau of Investigation and listed Allen’s alleged offence as the threat of terrorism.

It was not clear if Allen has obtained an attorney. He was ordered held in jail on bail of US$25,000 (RM103,000).

Allen served in the US Navy from October 1998 until October 2002, leaving the service as a seaman apprentice, the second-lowest rank, according to the US Navy Office of Information.