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Harvard student charged in bomb hoax out on $100,000 bail

By Bob Crowley and Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 7:30 PM EST, Wed December 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Harvard sophomore is accused of sending phony e-mail threats to avoid final exam
  • Eldo Kim, 20, allegedly e-mailed the threats before his exam was to begin
  • Judge ordered him to stay away from campus except one trip to retrieve belongings
  • He appeared in court wearing T-shirt and sweatpants

Boston (CNN) -- A Harvard University student charged with making bomb threats that led school officials to delay some final exams, including his, was released Wednesday with bail set at $100,000.

Eldo Kim, 20, of Cambridge, allegedly e-mailed bomb threats at about 8:30 a.m. Monday to offices associated with Harvard, including the Harvard University Police Department and the Harvard Crimson, the student-run daily newspaper.

He made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in South Boston on Wednesday and was told he could only return to the Harvard campus with an escort once to retrieve his belongings.

Kim was led into court in handcuffs and wearing a pair of dark sweatpants with "Harvard" written in large letters down the left leg and a gray T-shirt.

He was very quiet during proceedings. After each question from the judge, he answered "Yes, your honor."

Kim, who has a public defender, was released to his sister, who lives in the Boston area, and uncle.

According to the five-page criminal complaint filed against Kim, the subject line in each of the messages sent Monday read "bombs placed around campus" and cited "shrapnel bombs" in four buildings on the school's main campus in Cambridge.

"2/4. guess correctly. be quick or they will go off soon," the messages said, according to the complaint.

The Harvard police called in the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Secret Service; the Cambridge Police Department and the Boston Police Department along with numerous other first responders, including the Cambridge Fire Department.

The buildings were evacuated and swept by bomb technicians and hazardous materials officers, and access to Harvard Yard was restricted to students with Harvard IDs, according to the Harvard Gazette, the school's official news website.

Shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, long after Kim's exam had been canceled for the day, officials concluded that the threats were a hoax and reopened the buildings.

"Those who missed their exams due to the evacuation should be in touch with administrators about a makeup date or other arrangement," the Gazette said.

The e-mail messages had been sent through a service called Guerrilla Mail, which creates temporary and anonymous e-mail messages, according to the complaint. And the person had used a product called TOR, which assigns an anonymous Internet protocol address that can be used to hide the identity of the sender, it added.

But the sender failed to do that, according to the complaint. "Harvard University was able to determine that, in the several hours leading up to the receipt of the e-mail messages described above, Eldo Kim accessed TOR using Harvard's wireless network," it said.

The Crimson identified Kim as a sophomore.

An FBI agent and an officer with the Harvard University Police Department interviewed Kim Monday night at his campus residence, where he "stated that he authored the bomb threat e-mails" and said he had acted alone, the complaint says.

"According to Kim, he was motivated by a desire to avoid a final exam scheduled to be held on (Monday)," the complaint said. He is to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court before District of Massachusetts Chief Judge Judith G. Dein.

In a statement, school officials said they were "saddened by the details alleged in the criminal complaint" but had no further comment.

If convicted, the student could face a maximum of five years in prison, three years of suspended release, and a $250,000 fine.

On Wednesday, Kim waived his right to a probable cause hearing, surrendered his U.S. passport and was ordered to stay in Massachusetts. After his court appearance, he hurried past reporters without commenting.

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