Postal worker in Malta's jail sentence for anthrax hoax suspended

A court in Valetta, Malta, suspended the jail sentence of a postal worker convicted of creating a letter filled with white powder meant for the U.S. Embassy during the height of the 2001 anthrax scare.

Instead of completing a six month sentence, March Risiott will be placed on probation for three years, according to the court, reports.

Risiott’s envelope, which was addressed ‘American Embassy Malta’ on the front and had Arabic script copied from a candy package at the back, was located by his relatives in his apartment. They then notified authorities.

Risiott responded to the allegations by saying he only intended on playing a prank on his colleagues at work, according to

In 2001, several letters containing anthrax spores were sent to government offices and media outlets in the United States. Some turned out to be hoaxes, but five people died due to contamination.

In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its findings, which were recently reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. The FBI documents portray an unraveling U.S. Army scientist behind the attacks.

The scientist, biologist Bruce Ivins, is suspected of single-handedly preparing and executing the attacks. Ivins, who worked at the Army’s Fort Detrick biodefense lab in Frederick, Maryland, committed suicide in 2008, shortly before the FBI planned to charge him with the crimes.