Pitt withdraws $50,000 award in bomb threats investigation

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The University of Pittsburgh has withdrawn its $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for bomb threats that have plagued the campus since February.

Pitt officials confirmed to KDKA-TV Saturday evening that the reward had been rescinded, but would not elaborate on why that decision was made.

Robert Hill, Pitt's vice chancellor of public affairs, did not return calls to the Post-Gazette.

Information about the reward was removed from Pitt's website Saturday. Officials also offered no further comment on the probe.

Since Feb. 13, dozens of threats have been made, causing scores of building evacuations throughout the Oakland campus. More bomb threats were received early Saturday as well, affecting numerous buildings.

Other than the first half-dozen or so threats, which were scrawled in women's and men's restrooms, most have been emailed to Post-Gazette reporters covering the case.

Pitt offered a $10,000 reward on March 30 before increasing it to $50,000 earlier this month.

Some of threats have noted that they would stop if the reward was dropped. Mr. Hill, in a statement released Friday, said the messages have been reviewed by and discussed with law enforcement, including the FBI and U.S. attorney's office.

"The expert advice provided by these professionals, which guided the University's decision-making, was consistent with the widely held view that one should never negotiate with terrorists," the statement read. "More specifically, the University was urged to avoid any form of negotiation with anonymous correspondents claiming responsibility for the criminal acts that have disrupted the lives of our students and of the broader community."

On Wednesday, FBI agents in New York City seized a server used by an Internet service provider in Europe through which at least three of the anonymous emailed bomb threats passed.

The Internet hosting service May First/People Link said threats were sent through one of its servers used by the European Counter Network, or ECN, an Italian Internet provider that allows users to send anonymous emails. The organization's leaders have said they believe ECN was hacked for criminal purposes.


First Published April 22, 2012 12:00 AM


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