A local man in Nicosia was arrested on Wednesday after renowned virology professor Leondios Kostrikis told police he had received threatening voice messages.
Kostrikis, who is a member of an epidemiology team advising the government in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, says an unknown male had called his office on Wednesday around 12 noon and left messages.
Police said a 35-year-old man from Nicosia was arrested after work investigators were able to trace the calls back to the suspect's mobile phone device.
According to local media, the man left threatening messages directly for Kostrikis, warning the professor to stop promoting vaccinations.
We know you are an atheist and a Muslim, and working for Bill Gates’ dark forces. If we hear you ever again talking about the vaccine, we will take you out
"I'm gonna fix you good, you'll see what's coming at you," the man reportedly told Kostrikis.
The suspect, who has been described in the media as an anti-vaxxer, also made references to Bill Gates, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and global health advocate. It was not clear how many attempts the suspect made to reach the professor on his landline, but later reports said an alleged threat was relayed through a text message.
“Mr. Kostrikis, we know that you are an atheist and a Muslim, and you are working for Bill Gates’ dark forces. If we hear you ever again talking about the vaccine, we will organize ourselves and take you out,” the message said according to local media.
Gates, who has been publicly advocating the search for a Covid-19 vaccine, has been the target of numerous conspiracy theories among groups who oppose vaccinations.
Last week the Microsoft owner took to Twitter, saying "we don't yet have all the tools we need to stop the novel coronavirus and safely re-open the economy. But they are on the horizon."
Morphou Bishop Neophytos and Bill Gates
Two weeks ago, Morphou Bishop Neophytos made references to Bill Gates while speaking out against decree orders on Palm Sunday. The bishop accused police officers of being “rude” when they asked parishioners to abandon a church gathering and comply with movement restriction rules.
“If we don’t die from this disease, there will be another one just around the corner, an accident perhaps, old age - those of us who manage to reach old age if Bill Gates’ vaccinations will allow it – we will still depart from this temporary life,” Neophytos said.
"You are a Muslim and we will organize against you"
In his voice message, the suspect also ridiculed Kostrikis he prodessor's references to the development of Covid-19 vaccines.
"You are a Muslim and we will organize against you," the man said.
Police told Knews that a case would be filed against the suspect, who had remained in custody as of Thursday morning.
The man is facing conspiracy and misdemeanor charges as well as criminal charges for intimidation through the threat of violence.
It was not clear whether the suspect would attend a remand hearing on Friday.