New Zealand officials expressed regret in allowing the alleged Christchurch mosque gunman to send a hand-written letter from his prison cell, according to a statement obtained by the Associated Press Wednesday.
The six-page letter by alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant ended up on 4chan, a message board popular for expressing white supremacist views. (News of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s death by an apparent suicide was posted on 4chan before official reports were out.)
The Tarrant letter, dated July 4, which appears to be written in pencil in a small notepad, is addressed to a person named “Alan” in Russia. Tarrant reportedly wrote about a one-month trip he took to Russia in 2015 and warns that a “great conflict” is coming.
Tarrant also thanked “Alan” for postage stamps that he apparently sent and added that he’ll have to hide them from guards.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis admitted in the statement Wednesday that the prison system shouldn’t have allowed Tarrant to send the letter.
“I have made myself clear that this cannot happen again,” Davis said, according to the AP.
Davis also noted that all New Zealand prisoners have rights to send and receive mail. He added that the prison system can withhold correspondence in a “very limited” range of circumstances and that some other letters Tarrant had attempted to send or receive were withheld.
“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 Corrections Department echoed Davis’ sentiments in the statement Wednesday.
“On review, we acknowledge that this letter should have been withheld,” the department said, according to the AP. “We have made changes to the management of this prisoner’s mail to ensure that our robust processes are as effective as we need them to be.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also weighed in on the matter Wednesday.
“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 told reporters in Tuvalu, where she is attending the Pacific Islands Forum. “Obviously, this is an offender who has a very specific goal in mind, in terms of sharing his propaganda, so we should have been prepared for that.”