‘Mistake made’ after NZ mosque attack suspect sends letter from jail cell

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Officials in New Zealand have admitted making a mistake after the Christchurch mosque attack suspect was allowed to send a handwritten letter from his Auckland prison cell.

The six-page letter written by Brenton Tarrant was posted on the controversial website 4chan earlier this week – a platform that contains threads on white supremacy.

It comes as suspected gunmen in the recent El Paso and Norway attacks cited Tarrant as inspiration for their own alleged assaults on the public.

'Mistake made' after NZ mosque attack suspect sends letter from jail cell
Tarrant pictured in court in March

The letter, which looks to have been written in pencil on a small notepad, is addressed to “Alan” in Russia.

Most of the letter is seemingly innocuous, and talks about a one-month trip Tarrant took to Russia in 2015. However he also warns that a “great conflict” is coming, and uses language that could be seen as a call to arms.

Corrections minister Kelvin Davis believes that the prison system should not have allowed Tarrant to send the letter, saying: “I have made myself clear that this cannot happen again.”

However, he also added that inmates in New Zealand have the right to send and receive post but some correspondences can be withheld from inmates – and had been in Tarrant’s case.

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“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,” Mr Davis said.

In the letter, which is dated 4 July, Tarrant thanks “Alan” for the stamps he allegedly sent, saying they are the only two pieces of colour in an otherwise grey cell, adding he will have to hide them from guards.

He also cites Greek philosopher Plato, as well as others, as inspiration for his views, adding he “cannot go into any great detail about regrets or feelings as the guards will confiscate my letter if I do” and use it as evidence.

Opposition spokesman David Bennett said Mr Davis should demand immediate answers about how a such a letter could be sent from inside a maximum-security prison.

He said: “This man is accused of carrying out one of the most heinous crimes in New Zealand history.

“New Zealanders will be horrified that Corrections allowed him to send a letter which includes a call to action and has subsequently been posted online.”

'Mistake made' after NZ mosque attack suspect sends letter from jail cell
Some 51 people died in the attack in Christchurch

The New Zealand corrections department said the law only allows prisons to withhold an inmate’s post in a “very limited” range of circumstances.

“On review, we acknowledge that this letter should have been withheld,” the department said.

“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.”

'Mistake made' after NZ mosque attack suspect sends letter from jail cell

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has vowed never to say the name of the alleged gunman

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who vowed never to say the suspect’s name, said: “I think every New Zealander would have an expectation that this individual should not be able to share his hateful message from behind bars.”

Some 51 people were killed when two mosques were attacked in Christchurch on 15 March this year.

8chan, which is touted as a more radical version of 4chan, was taken offline earlier this month, after the suspected El Paso gunman, who allegedly killed 22 people on 3 August, posted a racist, anti-Latino essay on the site.