The Associated Press
BOSTON — The attorney for a Mukilteo man accused of making a bomb threat to get out of a final exam at Harvard University says his client was under a great deal of pressure and seems remorseful.
Twenty-year-old Eldo Kim is being released on $100,000 bond Wednesday into the custody of his sister, who lives in Massachusetts, and an uncle from North Carolina. Attorneys aren’t saying where he will stay.
Under the conditions of his release, he cannot enter Harvard’s campus without prior approval of Harvard and the federal court.
Federal public defender Ian Gold says Kim was dealing with finals and the third anniversary of his father’s death.
Gold says Kim became a naturalized U.S. citizen in fifth grade and renounced his South Korean citizenship.
Under the conditions of his release, Kim cannot enter Harvard’s campus without prior approval of Harvard and the federal court.
Kim did not enter a plea during an earlier hearing Wednesday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston alleges Kim sent hoax emails Monday saying shrapnel bombs would go off soon in two of four buildings on Harvard’s Cambridge, Mass., campus. The emails came minutes before he was to take a final exam in one of the buildings.
The buildings were shut down for hours before investigators determined there were no explosives.
Kim attended Kamiak High School, graduating in June 2012, Andy Muntz, a spokesman for the Mukilteo School District, said Wednesday.
While there, Kim was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and participated on the tennis and debate teams, Muntz said. His debate coach, Steven Helman, declined to comment this morning.
A cached version of Kim’s LinkedIn profile, which has been taken down, indicates that he did several internships in South Korea.
Harvard said it was saddened by the allegations against Kim but would have no further comment on the investigation.
Alexander Ryjik, a junior from Alexandria, Va., was about to take his Politics of American Education final in Emerson Hall when alarms went off and he had to leave. He recognized Kim from the class but did not know him personally. He said Wednesday he was not surprised to hear that authorities believe a student is responsible for the hoax.
“Harvard is just like every other school, where students are just as stressed and caught up with their work,” he said. “At Harvard especially, people are scared to fail or do poorly, even a B. It just kind of reflects just how high-stress it is here. If it is true that a student sent a bomb threat to prevent himself from taking a final, I think it’s sad that somebody would have to go to that length.”
Authorities said Kim told them he emailed the bomb threats about a half-hour before he was scheduled to take a final in Emerson Hall. He said he was there at 9 a.m. when he heard the alarm sound and knew his plan had worked, according to an FBI affidavit.
On Saturday night, Kim sent an email over his dorm Listserv, The Harvard Crimson reported.
“I was wondering if anyone had taken GOV 1368: The Politics of American Education (Paul Peterson) in the past,” Kim wrote in the email. “I have several quick questions about the course.”
According to the complaint, Kim sent emails to Harvard police, two university officials and the president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper, saying bombs had been placed around campus.
An FBI affidavit says Harvard determined Kim had accessed TOR, a free Internet product that assigns a temporary anonymous Internet protocol address, using the university’s wireless network.
The maximum penalties for a bomb hoax are five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.
As a sophomore at Kamiak, Kim was a National Peace Essay Contest winner with other students nationwide, a program sponsored by the federally-funded United States Institute of Peace.
His contest biography described him as a member of varsity tennis and the swim team, as well as the debate team.
“Eldo is also a member of National Honor Society and tutors students in mathematics. He is enrolled in the Seattle Conservatory of Music and plays the viola,” the biography said.
Kim also was described as a voluntary research assistant for a professor at Korea University, and has assisted in the development of a model for public acceptance of the management of radioactive waste.
“During the summer of 2008, he traveled with fellow high school students to Peru and rebuilt rural communities,” the biography said. “He enjoys writing and competing in sports. Eldo plans to major in Political Science and is excited for what the future holds in the coming years.”
Seattle Times staff reporters Steve Miletich and Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this post.