Was there illegal distribution of materials going on at an observatory?
That was just an excuse to shut down the place and hide what they had been doing.
Why would you need to shut down the entire place after the suspect was arrested offsite and also taken to a mental hospital?
No one has ever explained it, and articles about it, never give an explanation either.
Sunspot Solar Observatory
How (and Why) the FBI Mysteriously Shut Down a Federal Solar Observatory
For many years, the observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, did its job without much fanfare. Instruments up there, on the 9,200-foot Sacramento Peak, watched the Sun—the sort of star you yourself are not supposed to look at through a telescope.
In early September 2018, though, Sunspot Solar Observatory broke into the national consciousness, and not for a stellar scientific discovery. Instead, the facility made headlines because it and the small surrounding town had been evacuated, because, rumors said, it had been shut down by the FBI.
Speculation did its thing: Perhaps the instruments on the peak had gotten too close to a good secret—whether that was of an alien presence, or goings-on at nearby military installations. Maybe the Sun itself would soon send an apocalyptic storm our way.
The observatory remained closed for 11 days, with the organization that oversees the facility—the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a consortium of educational institutions that operates telescopes for NASA and the National Science Foundation—keeping relatively mum. On September 16, 2018, though, the group released a statement: “AURA has been cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak,” it read, in part. “During this time, we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.”
Not long after, the public learned that the investigation dealt with the dissemination of child sexual abuse material, from a Sunspot network.
Almost exactly four years later, the case went to criminal trial. The state charged Joshua Cope, who worked as a janitor at the observatory, with two counts of the possession of child pornography, and one of its distribution. – Source
Shutdown Of New Mexico Observatory Was Tied To Investigation Into Child Pornography
Newly unsealed court documents have explained the mysterious closure of a New Mexico observatory earlier this month, revealing that authorities were investigating one of the facility’s janitors for possession and distribution of child pornography.
The Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak was shut for 11 days for “a security issue,” and its closure drew cheeky speculation that authorities were investigating the presence of UFOs.
According to a warrant application, which was filed last week and unsealed a few days ago, the FBI was examining the observatory – but not for the presence of aliens.
In an affidavit, an FBI agent wrote that she was looking at the “activities of an individual who was utilizing the wireless internet service of the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, to download and distribute child pornography.”
After authorities seized a laptop computer in the facility with images of child pornography, the warrant application says an employee observed the janitor’s behavior at the facility becoming “frantic.” He repeatedly approached the employee throughout the day with questions about “missing items and lax security.”
Observatory officials then decided to close the facility “without advice from the FBI,” the warrant application states. The facility reopened on Monday.
NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported that the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy said the decision to evacuate the facility was based on “the need for expeditious response to the potential threat.”
“Our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take,” AURA said in a statement. – Source
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