A 41-year-old Mississippi man has been charged with sending ricin-poisoned letters to US officials, including President Barack Obama. Investigators are probing whether he had links to an original suspect in the case.
The suspect, Everett Dutschke, was arrested early Saturday without incident at his home in Tupelo, Mississippi, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said in a statement.
The US Department of Justice later confirmed he had been charged with possession of the biological agent ricin, and with attempting to use it as a weapon.
He stands accused of sending ricin-laced poisoned letters to US President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi last week as well as to 80-year-old Mississippi judge Sadie Holland.
If convicted he faces maximum possible penalties of life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine (190,000 euros), and five years of supervised release. He is due to appear in the United States District Court in Oxford, Mississippi on Monday.
Possible link between suspects
Dutschke is the second person to be charged in connection with the FBI investigation. Charges were initially filed against Elvis Presley impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis, but were dropped on Wednesday, when investigators revealed they had discovered new information.
Media reports suggest Dutschke and Curtis may have been acquainted. Before he was released Curtis, 45, claimed to have been framed. Curtis’ lawyer also suggested Monday that there had been a long-running feud between the two men.
Dutschke has denied any involvement in the sending of the letters.
ccp/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)