Letter earns 81-year-old visit from Secret Service

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) – An elderly man who wrote in a letter to the editor about Saddam Hussein’s execution that “they hanged the wrong man” got a visit from Secret Service agents concerned he was threatening President Bush.

The letter by Dan Tilli, 81, was published in Monday’s edition of The Express-Times of Easton, Pa. It ended with the line, “I still believe they hanged the wrong man.”

Tilli said the statement was not a threat. “I didn’t say who – I could’ve meant (Osama) bin Laden,” he said Friday.

Two Secret Service agents questioned Tilli at his Bethlehem apartment Thursday, briefly searching the place and taking pictures of him, he said.

The Secret Service confirmed the encounter. Bob Slama, special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Philadelphia office, said it was the agency’s duty to investigate.

The agents almost immediately decided Tilli was not a threat, Slama said

“We have no further interest in Dan,” he said.

Tilli said the agents appeared more relaxed when he dug out a scrapbook containing more than 200 letters that he has written over the years, almost all on political topics.

“He said, ‘Keep writing, but just don’t make no threats,”‘ Tilli said of one of the agents.

It wasn’t Tilli’s first run-in with the federal government over his letter writing.

Two FBI agents from Allentown showed up at his home last year about a letter he wrote advocating a civil war to unseat Bush, he said.

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