US man pleads guilty to hoax threat to blow up Statue of Liberty

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NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) - A West Virginia man on Monday pleaded guilty to making a hoax threat to blow up the Statue of Liberty last year, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of tourists from Liberty Island in New York harbor.

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Jason Paul Smith, 42, admitted to one count of conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes before U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan. The defendant said he was currently in mental health treatment.

Related: See the Statue of Liberty through the years:

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US man pleads guilty to hoax threat to blow up Statue of Liberty
Head of the Statue of Liberty on display in France early in 1884 prior to being shipped to the United States. (AP Photo)
The forearm and torch of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876. In order to raise funds for the completion of the statue and its pedestal members of the public could pay fifty cents to climb to the balcony of the torch. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
Segments of the Statue of Liberty during its construction in the workshop of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, Paris, France, circa 1880. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1884: The left hand of the Statue of Liberty under construction. Sixty men have worked for almost ten years on the various parts of the statue, not including its designer Frederic Bartholdi and his assistants. Original Publication: From The Strand Magazine. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The feet of the Statue of Liberty arrive on Liberty Island 1885. The statue was a gift from the people of France to the United States, It represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
View of portions of the Statue of Liberty during its construction in the workshop of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, Paris, France, circa 1880. Bartholdi stands at left. (Photo by Musee Bartholdi/Authenticated News/Getty Images)
As the sight-seer sees the Statue of Liberty, after disembarking from the small boat which brings him across New York Harbor from the Battery shown May 6, 1931. (AP Photo)
The Statue of Liberty with the scaffolding erected by the Works Progress Administration to furnish a footing for the coppersmiths who are about to put a flashing or apron around the bottom of the statue to keep out the storm water which for years has been seeping down through the masonry of the pedestal in New York City, 1930. (AP Photo)
The Statue of Liberty just after the new floodlighting system was inaugurated in New York on Oct. 26, 1931. Josette Laval, daughter of the French Premier, from the top of the Empire State building released via radio an aerial flashlight bomb from a U.S. Army Air Corps plane, in command of Captain Albert W. Stevens, flying over New York Harbor. The flashlight illumination operated an "Electric Eye" or photo electric cell held in the hand of Miss Liberty which in turn inaugurated a new floodlighting system the War Department had installed. (AP Photo)
American visitors find relief from the heat in the shade of a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Paris, Aug. 26, 1932. (AP Photo)
The ocean liner Queen Mary passes the Statue of Liberty as she enters New York Harbor after completing her first voyage to the United States on June 1, 1936. (AP Photo)
This aerial view shows the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island as French-American organizations gather at its base to celebrate the 147th anniversary of Bastille Day in New York City on July 14, 1936. (AP Photo)
The Statue of Liberty is seen decked out with American flags at its 50th anniversary celebration, Oct. 28, 1936. (AP Photo/Pictures, Inc.)
Statue of Liberty is seen in New York Harbor, July 7, 1942. (AP Photo)
Merchant ships lie at anchor in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Sept. 16, 1946. The ships tied up be cause of waterfront strikes. Only few tugs and ferries are on the move. (AP Photo)
Visitors peek out from under the crown of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Oct. 26, 1946. (AP Photo)
Helen Foster and George Clancy perch on a rail on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor on July 2, 1949. July 4th marks the 65th anniversary of the presentation of the statue to the United States by the people of France. (AP Photo/Jacob Harris)
A 12x20-foot Hungarian national flag flies from the torch held by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Nov. 18, 1956, apparently placed there by Hungarian partisans. An American flag is also attached to the torch. (AP Photo)
The Mayflower II moves past the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor on leaving New York City under tow, Nov. 23, 1957, for Plymouth, Mass. At Plymouth, it will be turned over in Thanksgiving Day ceremonies to the Plymouth (cq) Plantation, an historical organization. (AP Photo)
In this broadside air view of Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Lower Manhattan skyline rises across Upper New York Bay (left background) in New York City on June 19, 1961. In the right center, the Queen Elizabeth puts out to sea. In the right background is Governor?s Island, with Brooklyn behind it. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff))
A renovation program is planned for the Statue of Liberty, the famed beacon in New York Harbor in 1983, that has welcomed thousands to immigrants to the United States. The statue has suffered severe deterioration caused by air pollution. Note heavy smog in background over nearby New Jersey. (AP Photo/David Pickoff)
**FILE** This 1986 file photo shows the crown of the Statue of Liberty. National Park Service lawmakers on Wednesday said the crown will remained closed to tourists. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan, FILE)
A ferry passes the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island in this view from One World Observatory, Wednesday, May 20, 2015 in New York. The observatory atop the 104-story skyscraper opens to the public on May 29. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
An ariel view of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A supermoon sets behind the Statue of Liberty, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in New York. The larger than normal moon called the "Supermoon" happens only once this year as the moon on its elliptical orbit is at its closest point to earth and is 13.5 percent larger than usual. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Ice flows past the Statue of Liberty, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in New York. A wide swath of the country is experiencing record-breaking temperatures while other areas are expecting more winter precipitation Tuesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Tourists visit the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in New York. The Statue of Liberty reopened to the public after the state of New York agreed to shoulder the costs of running the site during the partial federal government shutdown. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FILE - In this July 3, 2007 file photo, the Statue of Liberty is seen at sunset in New York. The Statue of Liberty, which has been closed to visitors since Superstorm Sandy, is scheduled to reopen for tours July Fourth, when Statue Cruises resumes departures for Liberty Island from Lower Manhattan. For tourists who want to see the famous statue in the course of exploring other parts of New York, a trip to the Red Hook section of Brooklyn yields a great head-on view of the statue from Louis Valentino Jr. Park. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou said the government agreed under a plea deal to recommend a sentence of three years' supervised release, though the judge is not bound by that recommendation.

Smith faces a maximum five-year prison term at his scheduled Sept. 6 sentencing. Jennifer Willis, a federal public defender representing Smith, said after the hearing that her client was satisfied with the deal.

The defendant, from Harts, West Virginia, was accused of making the hoax threat in an April 2015 call in which he identified himself as an "ISI terrorist" named Abdul Yasin, and said "we" were planning to "blow up" the Statute of Liberty.

More than 3,200 people were evacuated from Liberty Island after officials learned of a bomb scare at around 11 a.m. Officials sounded an all-clear about four hours later.

Authorities suspect a fugitive named Abdul Rahman Yasin of involvement in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Smith made the threat by placing a call from his iPad to New York City's emergency 911 system, using a service for the hearing-impaired, authorities said.

He has attended a school for the deaf and blind, authorities said, citing his Facebook page, and he used a sign language interpreter in court on Monday.

Authorities said the iPad registered in Smith's name was also used to make two 911 calls in May 2015, when a user identified as "isis allah Bomb maker" threatened to attack Times Square and kill police officers at the Brooklyn Bridge.

The defendant was arrested in Texas in August and released on bail the following month, according to court records.

ISIS is short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group also known as the Islamic State and ISIL.

The case is USA v. Smith, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00128. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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