U.S. authorities investigate bomb found in mailbox at Soros' N.Y. home

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal agents on Tuesday were investigating an explosive device that was found in a mailbox outside a New York home owned by billionaire financier George Soros.

Soros, one of the world's biggest donors to liberal groups and causes, was not there at the time. He has become a hated figure among some right-wing activists in the United States and Eastern Europe, and the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary.

An employee at the home in Katonah, an upscale hamlet about 41 miles (66 km) north of New York City, opened a package at around 3:45 p.m. ET (1945 GMT) on Monday to find what appeared to be an explosive device, the Bedford Police Department said.

Bomb squad technicians detonated it in a nearby wooded area, police said.

Federal investigators treated the package as a possible improvised explosive device but its components and construction were still being investigated, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said.

There was no warning of a possible threat to Soros, and there was no continuing threat to Soros or the public, the official said.

The FBI's New York field office did not respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear whether the device was functional, if the package was addressed to Soros or whether it was sent through the mail or left at the mailbox by someone.

Images of the address published by Google Maps show a mailbox on the side of the road in front of a gated driveway.

Soros has donated billions of dollars to his Open Society Foundations, a grant-making organization that funds civil society groups around the world. It has clashed with Hungary's government over its restrictions on immigration and asylum seekers.

The foundation released a statement attributing the incident to degraded political discourse in countries around the world.

"In this climate of fear, falsehoods and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats," the foundation said. "George Soros deplores violence of any kind, and urges politicians across the political spectrum to tone down their rhetoric."

A Jew who survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Soros is a frequent target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that circulate in right-wing forums online.

U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, said earlier this month that Soros paid protesters who confronted senators at hearings for Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Trump did not cite any evidence. The Soros foundation denied the claim.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Jonathan Allen, Jennifer Ablan and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jeffrey Benkoe)

10/23/2018 14:21

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