Elaine Thompson  /  AP file
Theodore Kaczynski, in a June 21, 1996, file photo.
updated 3/8/2004 9:04:11 AM ET 2004-03-08T14:04:11

Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski has no right to donate his writings to a university for research, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. ruled Friday that the government legally possesses the papers on behalf of the victims of Kaczynski’s bombs, and may keep the documents indefinitely.

Burrell overruled findings two months ago by U.S. Magistrate Gregory G. Hollows, who ruled that the papers must either be returned to Kaczynski so he could donate them to a university, or be sold in order to raise money for his victims.

Hollows ruled that the government has apparently tried to curtail the distribution of Kaczynski’s manuscripts.

A matter of property, not communcation
But Burrell found that the former mathematics prodigy turned anti-technology serial bomber cannot decide what should be done with the papers.

“The issue is not whether Kaczynski has the right to communicate any idea, but rather whether equity supports his position that he can dictate what the government must do with ... property it lawfully possesses,” Burrell ruled.

Kaczynski’s lawyer said he plans to appeal.

Kaczynski, 61, has acknowledged that he was the notorious Unabomber, who set off 16 explosions between 1978 and 1995 that killed three people and injured 29 others. The FBI dubbed the man the Unabomber because the bombs originally targeted university professors and airline executives.

A Harvard graduate who holds advanced degrees in mathematics from the University of Michigan, Kaczynski has maintained in his writings that technological advances have reduced human freedom.

Captured in April 1996
He was captured at his Lincoln, Mont., shack in April 1996, after his brother notified the FBI that Kaczynski’s letters bore a resemblance to the Unabomber manifesto published under pressure by The Washington Post.

As part of a plea agreement, Kaczynski admitted his role in the bombings and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1998. He is serving his sentence at a high-security prison in Colorado.

The University of Michigan has told the court it wants papers seized from his cabin so that they could be included in the school’s world-renowned research library of social protest.

The government has refused to sell the papers or give them to the university.

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