A leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen was sentenced to 84 months in prison on Tuesday over the group’s threat and intimidation campaign against reporters and Anti-Defamation League staff, according to the Justice Department.
The DOJ announced on Tuesday that 25-year-old Washington man Kaleb Cole was handed the sentence on charges of mailing threatening communications, cyberstalking, conspiracy and interfering with a federally protected activity based on religion.
Atomwaffen’s plot involved mailing threatening, hate-filled posters to journalists and activists against anti-Semitism. The group also tried to intimidate the victims by “swatting” them — that is, contacting law enforcement with hoax emergency calls to get a SWAT team to swarm the victims’ homes.
The extremists aimed the threats at journalists from ProPublica and local Seattle news station KING 5 who had exposed the group and its members, including Cole. The conspiracy also largely focused on Jewish individuals and journalists of color, according to the DOJ.
Cole’s case was lead by prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke declared in a statement that the threats were “antithetical to American values, even more so when they aim to intimidate journalists and others who are working to expose bigotry in our society.”
KING 5 reporter Chris Ingalls, one of the journalists who was targeted by the Atomwaffen, penned a response to Cole’s sentence, saying that “makes me appreciate my chosen profession.”
“We know there are more Kaleb Coles out there,” Ingalls wrote. “There are also dedicated reporters who are trying to find them.”