Drone artist walks free from criminal charges

Police drop all charges against Essam Attia, the hoaxer who bombarded NYC with fake drone ads

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Attia's police drone ads caused embarrassment to the NYPD Essam Attia / freeessam.com

New York-based artist Essam Attia, whose campaign to raise awareness about the use of drones in the US resulted in a court appearance, has had all charges against him dropped.

In late 2012, Attia donned a fake uniform and hopped into a maintenance van to plaster uber-realistic, satirical street signs all over Manhattan. The posters purported to from the NYPD and advocated the use of drones in the city, fooling several residents and embarrassing the police in the process.

Police tracked the artist to his house at the end of 2012 and pressed charges against him. Until this week, Attia was charged with three felonies and 56 counts of possessing a forged instrument. Attia claims that his intention was just to "create a conversation" about the use of drones, both at home and abroad.

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Attia's satirical drone warning signs in New York Essam Attia / freeessam.com

"The conversation has not yet reached a mainstream level, where we're talking about this at the dinner table," Attia says. "We have to remember that these are devices that right now internationally, are being used to kill people. They're armed, they shoot missiles. We're fighting an illegal war in Pakistan that no-one seems to want to talk about where we're bombing people left and right. I think we should be talking about whether that's technology that we want in this country."

Attia had all charges against him dropped on Monday – he said that he was relieved that the district attorney clearly had "bigger fish to fry". Animal New York were huge supporters of his freedom, and ran a campaign called Free ESSAM that garnered the case widespread attention.

Check out a blacked-out, pitched down interview with the artist below, shot when he was still on the run from the feds: 

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