June 24, 2010

Fake Bomb Art Project baffles G20 Police

CANADA - Two days ago police arrested a computer science geek named Byron Sonne in Forest Hill north of Toronto on G20 related charges. Today they arrested his visual artist common-law wife Kristen Peterson. Both were arrested for possession of bomb making materials and weapons.

The pair were intended to make a big splash in the media by preparing a fake bomb as a huge publicity stunt to gain international attention and poke fun at the security expenditures for the G20 (over $1.1 billion CDN was spent on this year's G20 meeting, compared to the mere $18 million that was spent last year in Pittsburgh).

Their previous art antics and credit card bills showing a list of bomb making materials (everything but the actual explosives) tipped off police that these two should be watched closely. Police claim the pair possessed the items for "a dangerous purpose", but history on the two people suggests this was nothing more than an elaborate prank.

Byron Sonne and Kristen Peterson are middle-aged, live in a million-dollar house in suburbia and are quite well-off financially. Sonne is a computer security expert and writes code for banks, trust funds, etc. and thus is quite well paid. The couple is described by friends and family as happy, content and having "a good sense of humour".

In high school, Sonne planted a fake bomb that resulted in his school being evacuated. Its not his first time making an elaborate object that looks like a bomb. You know, with the flashing lights and the count down meter.

Sonne recently joked he was the last guy counter-terrorism officials would investigate. He made the comment a month ago at a “Surveillance Club” meeting, a group for people interested in surveillance ideas and issues. As a slightly nerdy middle-aged guy with a receding hairline he didn't really fit the profile of "international terrorist".

Sonne is also charged with mischief and trying to intimidate someone in the justice system... which goes back to the prank they were planning.

During the bail hearing yesterday Sonne winked at several reporters while his lawyer later requested a publication ban, which was granted.

But that doesn't stop bloggers from speculating, reporting or commenting!

Sonne and Peterson are best described as agent provocateurs... they just like to stir up controversy. Hardly dangerous, just a pair of attention seekers.

“He’s not a terrorist or anything like that,” says friend Julian Dunn, who worked with Sonne in 2003. “If anything, he’s what I would term an agent provocateur. (He likes to) push buttons and challenge the security apparatus.”

Jesse Hirsh, an Internet specialist who met Sonne at the recent “Surveillance Club” meeting, says there is no way Sonne was seeking mayhem and destruction. “He was more critical of the whole circus, as it were,” says Hirsh. “I suspect that this may just be a stunt and perhaps a stunt that got out of hand.” He believes Sonne may have also been deliberately baiting security officials. He may have been sending them photos of the fake bomb he was making and this raised alarm bells.

The only crime here is that these two people were seeking to cause a media stir. A simple case of mischief that has been over scrutinized.

And really its not such a surprise considering the $1.1 billion CDN that has been UTTERLY WASTED on security during this G20 meeting. That is $1 million per minute, basically sending the children of every police officer involved to university. A lot of Canadians are pissed off at the complete waste of money and its rather expected that some Canadians would want to poke fun at the wastefulness of Stephen Harper's government.

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