On Tuesday, a user posted on 4chan a letter that was allegedly from Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant.
The letter was posted to the /pol/ message board which is known for its graphic images and content. The user wrote “A couple of months ago I sent a letter to Brenton Tarrant and today I finally got a response”
In the initial post, the user, who says he lives in Russia, showed the addressed envelope with a stamp that reads “Auckland Prison”. The return address is that of Paremoremo prison and the name above it read “Brenton Tarrant”.
Most replies on the thread said that the letter was “fake” and accused the poster of forging it for attention. But according to Newshub, the department of corrections in New Zealand confirmed that the letter was legitimate and should have been “withheld”.
The user then posts the photographs of each page of the letter in 6 separate replies on the thread.
The Letter Was Sent Out By Mistake
Under New Zealand law, Brenton Tarrant has the right to send and receive as much correspondence as he wants from prison as long as it doesn’t “endangers anyone’s safety or promotes the commission of an offence” according to the New Zealand Prison Operations Manual.
While the letter doesn’t have any specific call to action for violence or instruct the recipient to commit any crimes, it does touch briefly on race and ends with a vague reminder which could provoke a reaction from extremists.
Despite the letter not clearly violating the prison manual rules, Newshub is reporting that Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is “angry at his department” for letting the letter out. The Department of Corrections also issued a statement saying “we acknowledge that this letter should have been withheld”.
“Corrections is legislatively required to manage prisoners in accordance with the provisions set out in the Corrections Act 2004 and our international obligations for the treatment of all prisoners,” said a spokesperson in a statement from the corrections department, “Section 69 of the Act states that every prisoner has legislatively required minimum entitlements. One of these minimum entitlements is to send and receive mail. In accordance with section 108 of the Act, a Prison Director can only withhold a prisoner’s mail in a very limited range of circumstances. Some letters have been withheld.’
“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.”
Content of the Letter
The letter from Tarrant contains mostly small talk about Russia and his current predicament. He talks about how difficult it and expensive it must have been to send the letter from Russia and then he praises Russia as one of his “favorite countries”. He goes on to say that he visited Russia for a month in September 2015. traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg and through the Golden Circle.
He says the Russian people were “very welcoming” and says St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. He then goes on to name his favorite Russian music.
On page 5, the letter turns to Tarrant explaining his racist political views and influences and acknowledges that he can’t say too much in the letter otherwise the guards will confiscate it.
He ends the letter with “do not forget your duty to your people”
Prior to the Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15 that left 51 people dead, Tarrant posted a 74-page, 16,500 word manifesto titled “The Great Replacement” that details his worldview and his justification for his horrific crimes. In the racist manifesto, he calls for all non-European immigrants who he says are “invading his land” to be removed.
After the shooting occurred, the Chief Censor of New Zealand made it unlawful to possess or distribute the manifesto.
The Letter Writing Campaign to Brenton Tarrant was Started on 8chan
According to the New York Times, “before the shooting, someone appearing to be the gunman posted links to a white-nationalist manifesto on Twitter and 8chan, an online forum known for extremist right-wing discussions. The 8chan post included a link to what appeared to be the gunman’s Facebook page, where he said he would also broadcast live video of the attack.”
The message read, ““Well lads, it’s time to stop sh*tposting and time to make a real life effort post. I will carry out and attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook. The facebook link is below, by the time you read this I should be going live. It’s been a long ride and despite all your rampant f*ggotry, fecklessness and degeneracy, you are all top blokes and the best bunch of cobbers a man could ask for. I have provided links to my my writings below, please do your part by spreading my message, making memes and shitposting as you usually do. If I don’t survive the attack, goodbye, godbless and I will see you all in Valhalla!”
The user also posted the gunman’s manifesto. Tarrant broadcasted the first part of the shooting via a graphic Facebook live video.
After his arrest, users on the website 8chan, the same website where El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius posted his manifesto before allegedly killing 21 people in an El Paso Walmart, praised the gunman and posted instructions on how to send mail to Tarrant in prison.
8chan is a message board similar to 4chan that has become a hotbed for extremists and white supremacists. Following the shooting in El Paso, Texas, the owner of the site, Jim Watkins, said he was taking it offline. “The website has been offline voluntarily for the last week,” he said in a video posted to YouTube, “It’s really really sad. Please don’t blame me.”
Several users claimed to have sent mail to Tarrant. There has been no evidence of replies until the letter posted yesterday.