UK Student Journalist Targeted in Death Threat Tweet

The editor-in-chief of an A-list student newspaper in the UK was recently the target of a death threat on Twitter.

As multiple reports confirm, late last month Anna Leszkiewicz, editor-in-chief of the Cherwell student paper at Oxford University, received a tweet from a strange, seemingly anonymous account (since deleted) claiming she had less than six hours to live.

The message, in all caps (screenshot below), stated simply, “A BOMB HAS BEEN PLACED OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. IT WILL GO OFF AT EXACTLY 10.47PM ON A TIMER AND TRIGGER DESTROYING EVERYTHING.”

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Leszkiewicz says her reactions to the tweet over time have ranged from shrug-inducing to irritating to infuriating. In a recounting of the incident for Cherwell, headlined “My First Death Threat,” she writes that she initially discounted it as a joke or spam. Then she discovered three professional female journalists in Britain had received the same threats, from the same Twitter account.

Cue a call to mom, followed by a call to the police and a subsequent tweet of faux gratitude to the individual(s) behind the threatening account. In her words that night, “[S]o the police are on their way over to make sure my family home’s not actually being bombed… thanks, @98JU98U989.”

As she describes the scene that  followed:

“A more eventful evening than usual for the Leszkiewicz household followed, the climax of which saw my mother dashing outside in her nightie to reassure three policeman that the dodgy brown wire running the perimeter of our house was not a bomb — but a dog alarm installed by my Irish auntie on her latest visit so she could contain her over-pampered long-haired collie. … Almost every officer I spoke to told me they had never dealt with ‘something like this’ before. One thing is overwhelmingly clear — no one really knows how to deal with this kind of crime.”

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Although the sender and ultimate motivation remain a mystery, according to the Oxford Mail, “Leszkiewicz said she may have been targeted because she was a feminist who followed other feminists on Twitter. She had also, last week, posted a message on the ‘Everyday Sexism‘ Twitter account, which aims to highlight day-to-day abuse against women, after she was subjected to sexist remarks in the street.”

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