Man jailed over arson attack on phone tower

A UK man who believed the discredited conspiracy theory that 5G technology is linked to the coronavirus, has been jailed for an arson attack on a phone tower in England.

Michael Whitty, 47, set fire to the equipment box in the tower in Kirkby after encountering the conspiracy theory online, the BBC reported.

UK man Michael Whitty has been jailed over his attack on a 5G phone tower. (Merseyside Police)

The father of three was sentenced to three years behind bars.

The fire caused between about $18,000 and $27,000 of damage, and rendered the tower inoperable for 11 days.

The judge said that Whitty, who has 29 previous convictions – including for assault and firearm possession – had shown remorse.

The conspiracy theory behind the attack

Unfounded claims about a supposed link between 5G and COVID-19 began circulating on the fringes of the internet, where New Agers and QAnon followers perpetuated the hoax that global elites were using 5G to spread the virus.

Unsophisticated algorithms amplified those voices and ushered unsubstantiated theories into the mainstream.

Officials in the United Kingdom had previously expressed concerns that attacks on cell phone towers were motivated by false conspiracy theories.

The first 5G Optus tower is seen in the suburb of Dickson in Canberra. (AAP)

Meanwhile, actor Woody Harrelson and singer M.I.A. are among celebrities and influencers spreading such claims to their millions of followers.

There’s no evidence to support the theory that 5G networks cause COVID-19 or contribute to its spread. But still, it refuses to die – despite Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy among the debunkers.

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