05/07/2020 09:27 EDT

Arrests Made In Quebec After Trudeau Condemns Cell Tower Fires

Authorities say they're investigating potential links to 5G conspiracy theories.

Technicians work on repairing a cellphone tower Monday after a suspicious fire was reported in Piedmont, Que.

MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police say they’ve arrested two people in connection with a spate of cellphone tower fires in recent days.

Police say the pair, who are in their 20s, will be questioned following the arrests early Thursday in Ste-Adele, which is located northwest of Montreal.

Two more fires were set early Thursday in St-Jerome and Blainville, adding to other cases north of Montreal earlier this week. In total, six fires have been reported at Quebec cellphone towers in recent days.

A spokesman said the force’s major crimes unit took over the case and will investigate possible links between the blazes, including if they can be traced back to people holding conspiracy theories about 5G technology.

False narratives around 5G — the fifth-generation technology standard for cellphone companies — and COVID-19 have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, leading to attacks on towers across Europe.

The majority, if not all, of the Quebec towers targeted by suspected arson don’t have 5G capabilities.

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned against intentionally damaging cellphone towers in Canada, saying it “does nothing but threaten emergency services and impact the daily lives of Canadians across the country. 

On Tuesday, federal Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said Tuesday that he was “troubled by the reports of vandalism of Canadian cell towers.” 

With files from HuffPost Canada

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020

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