US woman guilty of Stephen Hawking Tenerife death threats

Stephen Hawking gives a lecture entitled: "A Brief History of Mine" during the Starmus Festival Image copyright EPA
Image caption It is the first time threats have been made against the professor

A US woman has been given a suspended four-month jail sentence in Spain for threatening to kill British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

The 37-year-old has also been banned from approaching to within 500m of the scientist or communicating with him on social media for eight months.

The woman was arrested in a hotel in Tenerife, close to where Prof Hawking was attending a conference.

She had stalked him on social media before following him to the island.

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Prof Hawking's daughter told police that threatening messages had begun flooding the scientist's social media profiles and one of his email accounts on Tuesday, Spanish News Today reported.

The woman, named in Spanish media reports as Jenny Theresa C., had told the scientist she would kill him during the Starmus Festival, attended by Nobel laureates as well as musicians including Brian May, Brian Eno and Hans Zimmer, and famous astronauts.

She was arrested on Wednesday by police who found her in possession of a map showing Prof Hawking's itinerary while on the island.

After being detained, she told police that she was in love with the scientist and would never have hurt him.

Police said everything pointed to the woman being mentally unstable.

Spanish police had provided Prof Hawking with extra security because of the emails - the first time such threats have been made against him.

During his lecture, entitled "A brief history of mine", Prof Hawking forecast that humans would not survive another thousand years on Earth because of the fragility of the planet, Spanish News Today said.

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