Alleged New Zealand gunman sends 'call to action' letter from jail cell

The man accused of killing 51 people at two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques was allowed to send a handwritten “call to action” letter from his jail cell — and it ended up online.

Brenton Tarrant sent a six-page letter to a person named “Alan” in Russia. The letter was posted on 4chan, a website notorious for posts from white supremacists, and comes after the El Paso, Texas, shooter cited Tarrant as an inspiration.

Much of the letter discusses a one-month trip Tarrant said he took to Russia in 2015, but also warns of a “great conflict” and uses language that could be interpreted as a call to arms.

New Zealand Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said in a statement that he believes the prison system shouldn’t have allowed Tarrant to send the letter.

“I have made myself clear that this cannot happen again,” Davis said.

New Zealand prisoners have the right to send and receive mail, but Davis said the prison system can withhold correspondence and has already done so with some letters Tarrant tried to send or receive.

“We have never had to manage a prisoner like this before — and I have asked questions around whether our laws are now fit for purpose and asked for advice on what changes we may now need to make,” Davis said.

The letter is dated July 4 and Tarrant thanks Alan for sending postage stamps, saying they’re the only two pieces of color in an otherwise gray cell and that he’ll have to hide them from the guards. He also cites Plato and other philosophers as inspiration for his views, saying he “cannot go into any great detail about regrets or feelings as the guards will confiscate my letter if I do” and that it could also be used as evidence.

Related: New Zealand mosque shootings

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Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A body lies on the footpath outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A man reacts as he speaks on a mobile phone outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
People wait outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Many people were killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said. Police have not yet described the scale of the shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Many people were killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, a witness said. Police have not yet described the scale of the shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A man talks on his mobile phone across the road from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says a number of people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch; police urge people to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police attempt to move people away from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called "one of New Zealand's darkest days," as authorities detained four people and defused explosive devices in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police stand outside a mosque in Linwood, Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed during shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police stand outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A police officer escorts a man away from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police keep watch at a park across the road from a a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Members of the public react in front of the Masjd Al Noor Mosque as they fear for their relatives on March 15, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. 49 people have been confirmed dead and more than 20 are injured following attacks at two mosques in Christchurch. Four people are in custody following shootings at Al Noor mosque on Dean's Road and the Linwood Masjid in Christchurch. Mosques across New Zealand have been closed and police are urging people not to attend Friday prayers as a safety precaution. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: A floral tribute is seen on Linwood Avenue near the Linwood Masjid on March 15, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. 49 people have been confirmed dead and more than 20 are injured following attacks at two mosques in Christchurch. Four people are in custody following shootings at Al Noor mosque on Dean's Road and the Linwood Masjid in Christchurch. Mosques across New Zealand have been closed and police are urging people not to attend Friday prayers as a safety precaution. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 15, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. One person is in custody and police are searching for another gunmen following several shootings at mosques in Christchurch. Police have not confirmed the number of casualties or fatalities. All schools and businesses are in lock down as police continue to search for other gunmen. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15: Police Commissioner Mike Bush speaks to media during a press conference at Royal Society Te Aparangi on March 15, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. One person is in custody and police are searching for another gunmen following several shootings at mosques in Christchurch. Police have not confirmed the number of casualties or fatalities. All schools and businesses are in lock down as police continue to search for other gunmen. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
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The Corrections Department said the law only allows a prison director to withhold a prisoner’s mail in a “very limited” range of circumstances, but in this occasion the letter “should have been withheld.”

Before Tarrant’s March 15 shooting, he uploaded a 74-page manifesto on 8chan in which he outlined his white supremacist views and beliefs that immigrants were invaders who would replace the white race.

8chan was effectively taken offline earlier this month after two companies cut off technical services after the shooter who killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart posted a racist manifesto on the website just before the Aug. 3 killings.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to never say Tarrant’s name in an effort to deny him the publicity she said he craves, which makes his letter even more embarrassing for the government.

“I think every New Zealander would have an expectation that this individual should not be able to share his hateful message from behind bars,” Ardern said.

Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to terrorism, murder and attempted murder charges. His trial is scheduled for May 2020.

 

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