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Two held after ad campaign triggers Boston bomb scare

Authorities have arrested two men in connection with electronic light boards depicting a middle-finger-waving moon man (popularly called Boston Mooninites) that triggered repeated bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday and prompted the closure of bridges and a stretch of the Charles River. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors vented their anger at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., the parent company of CNN, which said the battery-operated light boards were aimed at promoting the late-night Adult Swim cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Boston officials condemned Turner for not taking proper steps to end the bomb scares earlier and for not issuing an adequate apology to the city.

Turner Broadcasting said in written statements the devices had been placed around Boston and nine other cities in recent weeks as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign to promote the show.
"We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger," Phil Kent, CEO and chairman of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., said in one of two statements issued by the company. "As soon as we realized that an element of the campaign was being mistaken for something potentially dangerous, appropriate law enforcement officials were notified and through federal law enforcement channels, we identified the specific locations of the advertisements in all 10 cities in which they are posted. We also directed the third-party marketing firm who posted the advertisements to take them down immediately."

Peter Berdovsky, 27, a freelance video artist from Arlington, Massachusetts, and Sean Stevens, 28, were facing charges of placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic, as well as one count of disorderly conduct, said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The hoax charge is a felony, she said. Both men were arrested Wednesday evening. According to his Web site, Berdovsky is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and a founding member of a video artists group called Glitch who goes by the nickname "Zebbler" and sings in a band called "Superfiction."

Authorities believe Berdovsky was "in the employ of other individuals" as part of the marketing campaign, Coakley said. "How exactly this was executed, we are still investigating." Berdovsky is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Thursday in Charlestown District Court.

Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, another Turner enterprise, but the adult-themed network is a separate entity. Wednesday evening, Cartoon Network was running a statement during commercial breaks, expressing deep regret for "the hardships experienced as a result of this incident." The devices displayed a "Mooninite" -- an outer-space delinquent who makes frequent appearances on the cartoon -- greeting passersby with an upraised middle finger. But the discovery of nine of the light boards around Boston and its suburbs sent bomb squads scrambling throughout the day, snarling traffic and mass transit in one of the largest U.S. cities.

"It had a very sinister appearance," Coakley told reporters. "It had a battery behind it, and wires." The statement from Kent said Turner Broadcasting deeply regrets "the hardships experienced as a result of this incident."

Source: CNN
Tags: Boston Mooninites

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