8chan founder to be arrested over cyber libel charges filed by site’s current owner

Patrick Brennan. Screenshot from video of Maan Macapagal/ABS-CBN News
Patrick Brennan. Screenshot from video of Maan Macapagal/ABS-CBN News

The Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 158 has ordered the arrest of 8chan founder Patrick Brennan for cyber libel charges that were filed against him by the online message board’s current owner, Jim Watkins.

The warrant of arrest was issued on Wednesday and was signed by judge Romeo Tagra, according to Brennan’s lawyer, Alex Acain, Rappler reports. Brennan, an American who moved to the Philippines in 2014, is currently in the United States, and his lawyer did not say when he plans to return.

Brennan was sued over Twitter posts he made in which he called Watkins “senile” and 8chan’s moderators “incompetent” after the latter were called to testify before the U.S. Congress when the website was linked to an August 2019 El Paso mass shooting, ABS-CBN News reports. Pasay City Assistant Prosecutor Juliene Cabanacan indicted Brennan because she said there was malice in his tweets and he cannot prove that Watkins was indeed senile.

8chan, now called 8kun, has long been known to attract users who support racism, hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and child pornography. It was linked to the El Paso massacre, where at least 20 people were killed, because the gunman reportedly posted a 2,300-word manifesto on the website, where he spoke out against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Watkins has denied that the gunman posted his manifesto on 8chan.

Aside from the El Paso crime, the website has also been linked to the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting and the October 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

Read: Owner defends 8chan from critics, denies El Paso shooter posted manifesto to website

Brennan created the website in 2013 but he turned over its ownership to Watkins, a U.S. Army veteran, in 2015. Watkins is also a resident of the Philippines, where he reportedly owns a farm.

In an interview with The New York Times after the El Paso shooting, Brennan called for 8chan to be shut down.

“It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it,” he said.

If convicted of cyber libel, Brennan can be imprisoned for six to 12 years.

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