Berlin Resident Pronounced Guilty of Threatening to Bomb a Hospital
He attempted to extort the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) for £10 million in Bitcoin (BTC).
Who is and what did Emil Apreda do?
Emil Apreda, previously known as Emil A., a 33-year-old Italian that lives in Berlin, known to have a strong background in computing was accused of sending threatening emails to NHS starting April to June 2020.
In these emails, he was making bomb threats, saying that he will detonate a bomb in a hospital in the United Kingdom unless he will be paid £10 million ($14m) in cryptocurrency.
Emil A. sent the first email on the 25th of April, during the first UK lockdown; the email said that he will deposit an “explosive package” in a hospital unless the demands he was making were met but, as expected, this email found its way to the NCA (National Crime Agency) in just a few hours.
More about the investigation
Senior officers kept the threats away from the public’s ears, fearing that the patients will be too scared to go to the hospital.
Apparently, Apreda used encryption techniques and the dark web in a try to cover his identity, but police brought in behavioural, linguistics and cyber-crime experts to track him down.
The chain of emails continued until his arrest in June, an arrest that was made possible by good collaboration between the UK intelligence forces and their overseas partners in order to obtain a warrant and force the entry into the suspect’s home.
It seems that Apreda was monitoring the world events in an attempt to use the Covid-19 pandemic to his advantage. He also claimed that he would plant explosives at the Black Lives Matter protests happening, more than this, the intelligence agency found out that Apreda threatened the safety of members of parliament around the time of the anniversary of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.
The NHS did not respond to the threats Emil A. was making and the NCA believes that the threats were not real, but a just “Social engineering” attempt designed to create fear and “elicit the response he was after”, the payment he requested.
Emil Apreda’s trial began on the 11th of December in Germany and on Friday, Apreda was convicted to three years in prison, by the presiding judge of the District Criminal Court of Berlin, under the accusation of “attempted extortion”.
The NCA took the threat very seriously, Leary said that the Medical system was going through a “deep and heightened vulnerability” during this phase of the pandemic.
The investigation required a “dynamic and significant response,” the potential risk being heightened as Apreda claimed to be part of “Combat 18,” a terrorist organization that is not prescribed in the UK but represents a dangerous group, with extremist, far-right leanings.
Hospitals, by their therapeutic nature, could be vulnerable places because they are open areas and during the first lockdown were one of the few places where mass gatherings of people could exist.
“We had to step in pretty quickly and make sure that everything that could be done, was done,” Leary commented, but added that “nothing should be done to deter people from seeking medical treatment.”